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The Rise of The Independent Gen Z Voter

There is a generational rift paralyzing both major parties in the United States—a rift that is hindering legislative progress across the nation.

Young people are more likely to identify as liberals but less likely to identify as Democrats, according to a Brookings Institute study from November 2016. Of the sampled demographic, 35 percent of youths aged 18–29 identified as independent in 2016, compared to 30 percent in 2012 and 29 percent in 2008. Additionally, an NBC News/GenForward poll published in November 2017 found that 71 percent of millennial voters believe that a third major party is needed.

Much of this divide is due to young voters having different priorities than older party leaders. Michaela Robbins and her mother Wendy Robbins are both registered Democrats, but they disagree on policy and methods for institutional change.

“At the moment the most pressing issues to me are women’s rights, abortion access, immigration laws—social issues in whole like right to health care,” says Michaela Robbins, a fourth-year Political Science major at Cleveland State University and a self-identified socialist.

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