Dec 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Georgia's Gen-Z closer

Congressman-elect Maxwell Frost of Florida standing at a podium holding a microphone in his left hand while talking

Rep.-elect Maxwell Frost at a CHC event held at the DNC headquarters. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

Maxwell Frost won't take his seat in the House until January, but the 25-year-old from Florida already has his first congressional assignment: turning out young voters in Georgia to keep Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in office.

Driving the news: Frost, soon to be the youngest member of Congress and the first from Generation Z, will rally youth voters and HBCU students in Atlanta on Monday and Tuesday — capitalizing on the urgency organizers say is needed to turn out young people for the Dec. 6 Senate runoff.

Why it matters: It's the latest in a series of steps by Democratic leaders to elevate the young Black and Latino political organizer and gun safety activist, whose ability to connect with young voters is viewed as a potential X-factor in close races.

What they're saying: "I'm really excited to get over there and get out the youth vote," Frost told Axios. "We know that youth voters were the reason Sen. Warnock won last time, and it’s really important we do everything we can to make that happen again."

  • Frost said he's been pleasantly surprised by the support he's received from Democratic Party leaders: "As a young organizer, a progressive of color, there’s a lot of spaces I walk into and I’m not usually welcome there."
  • Unlike in 2018, when party elders were reluctant to uplift freshmen activists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Frost is entering Congress at a moment when progressives are a growing — and powerful — coalition within the Democratic caucus.
  • "The people who came before us worked hard and have been good members of the caucus and have shown that having an organizer in the halls of Congress is not a bad thing — it’s a damn good thing," he said. "It helps get our base excited."

By the numbers: Voters under 30 were essential to blunting the Republican "red wave" this cycle. They were the only age group in which a strong majority favored Democratic candidates, according to an analysis by Tufts University.

  • Exit polls show that Black and Latino/Hispanic youth in particular made a significant difference for President Biden's party: 89% of Black youth voters and 68% of Latino youth supported a Democratic House candidate.

Behind the scenes: Biden called Frost on election night to congratulate him, and at a press conference the next day called his victory "an incredible start in what, I’m sure, will be a long, distinguished career." The president told Frost he wanted to host him at the White House, per a source familiar with the conversation.

  • When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hosted a Nov. 14 dinner for newly elected members, she sat next to Frost.
  • On the campaign trail in Florida, House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) rallied and held fundraisers for Frost — sending a clear message about top Democrats' commitment to investing in the next generation of leaders.

What we're watching: The Democratic National Committee invited Frost to its headquarters in D.C. to speak to staff after the midterms.

  • "I intend to be very involved with getting out the vote, esp [sic] with young folks!" he tweeted at the time with a photo of beaming DNC staffers sitting around a table listening to him.
  • "We dreamt of you before you were even born," Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), a candidate to be the next chair of the Democrats' congressional campaign arm, said of Frost at a recent Congressional Hispanic Caucus event.

The big picture: Outgoing Speaker Pelosi anointed a new generation of House Democrats — all younger than 60 — to replace the trio of octogenarians who had led the caucus for nearly decades.

  • Biden has said he intends to seek re-election. But his support among Gen Z and millennial voters was cratering before actions on student loan debt relief, marijuana pardons and climate investments.
  • Although post-midterms election polls show voters have renewed confidence in Biden's leadership, 50% still think he should step aside in 2024, per a USA Today/Ipsos survey.

What's next: If the next GOP presidential nominee is not Donald Trump but a younger alternative such as Gov. Ron DeSantis, Biden having a popular Gen Z surrogate — from Florida, no less — could help Democrats make new inroads.

Go deeper