In the last several months, there's been a tangible sense of urgency surrounding this election. With the constant tirade of tragedies and unexpected events this year, this election has arguably become the most contested in American history. A perfect storm of sickness, death, violence, social unrest, and instability has paved the way for something perhaps more shocking than the year 2020: a nationwide drive for change. Whether you're supporting the current administration or want to desperately fight against it, people are taking to the streets, and more importantly, the polls to make the impact they want to see.
As a religious consumer of news and updates on current events, I've been reading a multitude of information about this election. I read articles and stories nearly every day. I've watched every debate. I've posted frequently on my social media accounts about issues that are relevant to me. I've helped friends get registered and be informed before they cast their ballots. I think I speak for most of this country when I say I have no idea what's going to happen in seven days, but I'm paying painfully close attention nonetheless.
As far as numbers go, Hillary Clinton's lead over Donald Trump was significantly smaller in late October of 2016. While she held a lead over Trump in swings states and was predicted to win Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Trump ended up shocking everyone in winning those states by a minuscule margin. Biden, however, is leading 7 swing states, and by a much larger percentage point value that Clinton was at this point in the trail. That's not to say that Trump could still win some of those states, considering states like Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and Iowa are being held by a very small lead. Still, this is a hopeful forecast for Biden supporters.
A factor that contributes to this large shift in Biden's favor with swing states is likely young voters, with millions of members of Generation Z reaching the age of eligibility. I've seen ample data that demonstrates unprecedented voter turnout among all age groups, with more than 50 million people having already voted; That surpassed the total voter turnout from 2016 with 7 days still left until election day. America has not seen such civic participation in nearly a century, and personally, that makes me swell with pride. My generation, Gen Z, has made a name for ourselves when it comes to action and activism. We are also the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in the history of this country which makes our voices incredibly unique and valuable. Combined with Millennials, we make up 37% of this year's electorate which means we have a magnanimous opportunity to turn the tides of this election. I recently saw a graphic that in key swing states such as Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina the numbers are anywhere from 15-20x the rate in 2016 among ages 18-29. To put it simply, this is huge.
Here's the problem: polls are not an exact science. There's no denying vote totals, and those are promising for Democrats, but a lot can change in 8 days. When I talk to older voters about the 2016 election, majority say they were floored by Donald Trump's victory. Even his supporters didn't expect his win, and I think that instills immense fear in people on both sides, but especially on the left. This election feels inexplicably uncertain, and there's no finite way to determine its outcome. Even more nerve-racking is the fact that we likely won't know the results until a few days after November 3rd.
What I and millions of others are dreading most, though, is the reaction from citizens. We've all seen the widespread unrest in response to issues like police brutality and COVID-19 deaths, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. People are scared of their civil rights being taken by a now conservative majority in the courts. With the recent nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, Senate Republicans are furthering polarization with the Affordable Care Act, Roe v Wade, and Obergefell vs. Hodges being placed on the chopping block in the coming SCOTUS term. If Biden wins, the outcry will be enormous, but if Trump wins, I honestly feel that it could drive us to the brink of civil war.
With these intensely high stakes in mind, I'm encouraging young people especially to make a voting plan, and not just for the President. In my home state and district, there are elections for the House, Senate, federal judges, and several important amendments that directly impact people. The same can be said for many other states as well. While the Presidential election is crucial, the executive branch is not all-powerful. You have the power to fight against policies that harm you and advocate for ones that benefit you with your ballot. Someone in history fought hard for your right to vote, so it's imperative that you use it. Don't let them silence you.