Generation Z has been hailed as one of the most progressive generations in history, but new research shows not all of them are leaning liberal.
According to a new report from Monitoring the Future, twelfth-grade boys are almost twice as likely to identify as conservative than liberal. The federal survey found that one-quarter of high school seniors identify as conservative or “very conservative,” whereas only 13 percent of boys identify as liberal or very liberal.
The data suggests a shift in the views of high school boys, as liberal boys previously outnumbered conservatives in the late 2000s. In the Carter years, both boys and girls leaned liberal.
However, girls are still more likely to lean liberal than boys, with the number of those identifying as such rising from 19 percent in 2012 to 30 percent in 2022. Only 12 percent of girls identify as conservative in the most recent survey.
Women ages 18 to 29 are twice as likely to identify as liberal than men, as analysis from the Survey Center on American Life found that 43 percent of young men identify as moderate, 31 percent as conservative, and 24 percent as liberal. The political leanings of men ages 18 to 29 has hardly changed in the past twenty years, suggesting that women alone account for the progressivism of Gen Z.
The shift towards conservativism among high school boys is much more subtle than the overall shift left among Gen Z. The Monitoring the Future survey found that the largest majority of senior boys — over two-fifths — claim no political label at all. One-fifth identified themselves as moderate, with only 36 percent collectively identifying as liberal or conservative.
Experts believe that modern conservative movements have invested more energy into appealing to young men, who often feel left behind by progressive movements. Ethan Benn, a 21-year-old student at George Washington University noted a “sort of intersection of Internet culture and gaming culture with conservative politics."
This comes through popular online conservative figures who target young men — such as Dennis Prager, Ben Shapiro, and Steven Crowder — making it easy for them “to get sucked into a very conservative sphere of politics and media."
“You could be watching a video about the latest Star Wars movie, and then the next video would be, ‘Here’s how women are ruining Star Wars,’” Benn told The Hill. “Even if you aren’t seeking it out, it will come and find you.”