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Why are Gen Z voters souring on Biden? I decided to ask them about that frustration.

The president can no longer count on Generation Z voting blue. He's going to have to earn it.

If you ask any person who follows politics, they鈥檙e likely to say that Gen Z voter turnout is making them anxious. At least, that鈥檚 what the headlines and polls are telling us.聽

A found that 58% of voters ages 18-34 are unsure if they鈥檒l vote in November. A found that just 53% of 18- to 29-year-olds definitely plan to vote this fall, compared with that age group鈥檚 2020 voter turnout rate of 68%.

That means roughly half of those ages 18-29 are on the fence about voting or do not plan to vote in November. While polls don't always translate to real life, these numbers should concern Democrats who relied on younger voters in 2020 and beyond.

With the help of Twitter and Instagram, I heard from three Gen Z members who don鈥檛 intend to vote in this presidential election. All three happen to be from North Carolina, where there鈥檚 also a consequential governor鈥檚 race and other local elections this fall.聽

Here鈥檚 what they had to say about why they're on the fence this year. I was surprised at how much each had considered this decision. After speaking with them, I think it's perfectly reasonable for President Joe Biden to be fearful of losing the presidency in November because to win, he'll need Generation Z, those born between 1997 to 2012.

The Gen Z voter who is standing on principles

Michael Murphy, 27

Michael Murphy, 27, is a bartender and member of the . He says he voted for Biden out of pragmatism in 2020, but the country鈥檚 aid to Israel has changed his tune.

鈥淪eeing the complicity and active engagement in the bombing of Palestinians, our brothers and sisters overseas 鈥 it's abominable,鈥 Murphy tells me. 鈥淚 think it's truly disgusting.鈥

He plans to vote in races down the ballot but not for any elected officials taking money from the , including Rep. who represents his district in the 91影视 Congress.聽

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He would change his vote if there were policy changes to stop sending weapons to Israel but fears it鈥檚 too late for that to happen. Since our conversation, the president has said that he'll , where more than a million Palestinian civilians are sheltering in southern Gaza. Murphy says it鈥檚 a 鈥渟mall bit of hope,鈥 but he still isn鈥檛 ready to support the president.

鈥淲e understand the stakes are high, but politics is about principles and materiality,鈥 Murphy tells me.

The Gen Z voter who won't automatically vote blue this year

Teresa Purello, 23

Teresa Purello, a 23-year-old graduate student, never used the phrase 鈥渧ote blue no matter who,鈥 but it is how they felt in 2020. They texted friends to make sure they knew which precinct they were assigned. It was the first time they could vote in a presidential election.

This year, they鈥檙e considering not voting for the presidency. They voted 鈥渘o preference鈥 in North Carolina鈥檚 Democratic primary election on Super Tuesday and still intend to vote in local races this fall.

鈥淭here was hope with voting for Biden in 2020,鈥 Purello tells me. 鈥淏ut voting for him now, it doesn't have that at all. There鈥檚 no appeal.鈥

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For Purello, the deaths in Gaza and loss of abortion access on Biden鈥檚 watch despite his vow to protect abortion rights are reasons they don鈥檛 plan on voting for him. Instead, they鈥檙e considering third-party candidates, as they also have issues with the two-party system in general.

鈥淓veryone always says voting is a way to get your voice to be heard, which is true,鈥 Purello says of Gen Z constituents. 鈥淏ut thousands of young people are actively choosing to sit out an election 鈥 that is also making a statement.鈥

The Gen Z voter on the fence on Biden

Ellen Perleberg, 25

Ellen Perleberg, a 25-year-old graduate student, is on the fence about voting this fall. She says she hated Biden in 2020, and hates him even more now.

鈥淚鈥檓 not convinced the Trump response to Gaza would be any worse than Biden鈥檚,鈥 Perleberg tells me. 鈥淚f you want to sell me on making sure that I vote, making sure that my generation votes, show me meaningful ways that it would be different and not just say rhetoric.鈥

Despite her dislike of the president, Perleberg votes in local elections. She notes that they matter more in North Carolina than in Washington, her home state.

So what does Gen Z actually care about this election?

These three voters are likely outliers, even among other members of Gen Z. The found that the biggest concerns for those ages 18-29 are economic issues, not the Israel-Hamas war.

This isn鈥檛 to say that Gen Z doesn鈥檛 care about the conflict 鈥 21% of those surveyed say they believe the United States should be more of an ally to Palestinians, and 51% support a permanent cease-fire. It just isn鈥檛 the top concern.聽

The progressives who don鈥檛 vote for Biden are making the same decision that Republican moderates who refuse to vote for former President Donald Trump will make this November. They see this as the best option in a system where neither candidate is one they'd like to support. Because of this, Democrats shouldn't necessarily rely on the party's youngest voters this election cycle, just like Trump should not expect every Republican to vote for him.

It doesn鈥檛 mean that they are uneducated or apathetic; in fact, none of the people I spoke with are sitting out this election altogether. They just aren鈥檛 sure Biden has earned their vote.聽

Each person I spoke with also shared that their friends held similar views about not voting in the presidential election or choosing to vote third party.聽

It鈥檚 possible that the momentum voters felt in 2020 has petered out. Voter turnout among those ages 18-29 increased by 8 percentage points between the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, according to It鈥檚 possible that the pandemic year was a fluke, and that this year鈥檚 voter turnout聽will be much different.

Although these are just anecdotes, they show that Democrats should genuinely be worried about how their actions now will affect Biden鈥檚 electability come November.

Follow聽91影视 elections columnist Sara Pequen虄o on X, formerly聽Twitter,聽聽and Facebook聽

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