August 9, 2018

What gets young people out to vote

Jim Newell, Slate

Among 17 messages polled for motivating young voters (and developed through focus groups), the most persuasive across multiple metrics related to “power in numbers”—i.e., reminding young people that the roughly 70 million eligible voters between 18 and 35 are becoming the largest bloc in the country, but they’re ignored because they turn out in such low rates (especially in nonpresidential years). Though turnout in the 2014 midterm elections was low across the board, the roughly 20 percent turnout among young voters still registered as jarring. By contrast, the most reliable age cohort, those 65 and older, turned out at 60 percent. And young voters of today also turn out less than previous generations did when they were the young voters.

The “emphasis on the power that young people have collectively, and on the fact that politicians who aren’t listening to them because they aren’t voting will have to listen if they do, is probably pretty unique to this age cohort,” Jamison Foser, a NextGen America senior adviser who leads the organization’s opinion research, told me. “Baby boomers have been hearing about how powerful they are for 40 years.”

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