Dec 8, 2022 - Politics

Run GenZ takes credit for helping keep Iowa a deep red state

Illustration of several versions of the elephant from the Republican Party logo stampeding and kicking up dust.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Run GenZ, a group that launched in Des Moines in 2020, recruited more than 100 young Republicans to run for political office in the last election cycle, co-founder and State Rep. Joe Mitchell tells Axios.

Why it matters: It could help churn out younger conservative voters — a demographic that’s long eluded the Republican party.

  • Nationwide, young voters are credited for staving off a Republican wave.
  • But Iowa Republicans overwhelmingly prevailed and Mitchell contends his group contributed.

State of play: The GOP won each congressional race in Iowa, all but one statewide elected office and added seats to their majorities in the state's House and Senate.

By the numbers: Iowa's general election statistics won't be available until January, but in this year's primary, 54% of voters under 34 were registered as Democrats while 45% were Republican.

  • That compares to 76% Democrats and 24% Republicans in the 2018 primary.
  • Nationally, voters who were 29 or younger favored Democrats by a 62% to 35% margin in the midterm election, according to day-after estimates from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University.

The big picture: Both parties recognize a need to mentor and recruit young people to run for office, with Democrats launching Run For Something in 2017.

  • It takes credit for helping to elect hundreds of young Democrats in the U.S. although the group's online map doesn’t show any recent candidates from Iowa.

The other side: Iowa Democrats are not necessarily focused on recruiting Generation Z candidates to run for office because they don't need to, House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst, told Axios.

  • The GOP's stands against abortion, legal marijuana and transgender rights turns young voters off in ways that groups like Mitchell's can never keep up with, Konfrst said.

Of note: Mitchell, at 21, became one of the youngest state representatives in Iowa history after he was elected in 2018.

What's next: He plans to continue to help build Run GenZ with the help of former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who is an advisory board chairperson for the group.

  • The group, which is now based in Texas, says its candidates achieved 90 victories to 35 losses across 32 states in the 2021-2022 election cycle.
  • That includes State Rep. Carter Nordman, a 24-year-old from Panora who was reelected last month Mitchell said.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more