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How Democrats can win over young people

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AAfter a strong performance in the 2022 midterms and a progressive victory in Wisconsin State Supreme Court election, Democratic leaders are still attempting to answer an important question: How do they maintain strong connections and engagement with young voters? For the Democratic Party, the challenge of mobilizing this demographic represents both an existential challenge and an opportunity.

Center for American Progress projects Gen Z-ers and Millennials will be included by 2024 more eligible voters Compared to both Gen X-ers and Boomers, the changing demographics of America are creating a ripe opportunity for Democrats to capitalize on. As a researcher of youth public opinion trends, I hear many young people say that polling rarely moves the needle on major policies. As a result, young people stay home on Election Day.

If Democrats want to win among this growing demographic, they need to meet young voters where they are, in moments of both achievement and struggle. This requires bridging the communication gap with youth messengers, allowing them to relate to the media platforms they use.

addressing the communication gap

Trump protests in 2020 turnout youth To join the coalition of Americans who put President Biden back in the White House. However, today the same young voters Tell They don’t see a return on their investment.

Herein lies Democrats’ main dilemma: One of the top reasons young voters give for not voting is the belief that voting doesn’t translate into tangible effects. For example, in a college student surveyThe top barrier they cited as a barrier to voting was “the belief that voting doesn’t change anything” (41% chose this). This is more of a messaging problem than a governance problem.

President Biden and the Democrats understand that young voters’ top priorities include issues Like gun violence (43%) and climate change (31%), so he addressed them through several large and historic bills. safe communities act strong background check and the Inflation Reduction Act put a $369 billion investment in clean energy. But when we talk to young voters, they don’t know about them. In one focus group, 4 out of 8 had not heard of the IRA’s passage a month after it happened.

Read more: Democrats’ climate message isn’t connecting with Latinos – but it could

To get messages such as legislative achievements directly to young voters, new ways need to be found to break through the noise and resonate.

breaking the noise with the young angels

Democrats may need to change their messengers to reach America’s youth.

over the past few decades, average age of congress has increased. The average age in the Senate is 64 years; In the House, it’s 58 years. Such a gulf partly explains the Democrats’ communication handicap. Young people want voices that speak to the unique circumstances that define their lives. This is best done by other young people.

characterized by significant periods of instability and conflict political socialization For many young voters. Millennials grew up during the Iraq War and the Great Recession, while Gen Z-ers came of age during the COVID-19 pandemic and the George Floyd national protests. Young people respond better to youth leaders who know what it’s like to grow up with declining economic mobility or who came of age during a pandemic and pushed for racial equality. 29% of college students said the biggest barrier to voting is candidates they dislike—young leaders who understand Gen Z and Millennial experiences can more effectively connect with these voters.

To fully realize the power of youth voters, it is essential to have youth political organizers at the table. Youth leaders from movement organizations such as the March for Our Lives and the Sunrise Movement should be invited into decision-making spaces. This gives Democrats effective policy messengers who also share the lived experiences and media habits of young voters.

Youth organizers recently worked to edge out their peers in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, centering a typically low-turnout race on a primary motivating issue for young voters: abortion. As a result, youth voters especially increased turnout. college campusesand flipped the control of the High Court, enabling it potential strike Wisconsin’s total abortion ban. When youth organizers talk to young voters and show them how specific elections and candidates can make a difference on issues they care about, youth show up.

A Youth Leader with a Blueprint

While the party struggles to break through the noise, one of the Democrats’ brightest young stars has proven effective at doing so. I often ask young voters in focus groups which politicians inspire them. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the most frequent response. He has built credibility with young voters through shared values ​​and activism.

Ocasio-Cortez’s Identity as a Millennial Puerto Rican Woman represents the youth of America, who are more diverse than any previous generation and who are recognized for Is Politics. His previous work as a bartender allows him to relate to the economic struggles of a generation defined by the Great Depression and limited upward mobility. Young people praise him for joining politics as most youth do: But Protest and on social media.

polling shows that top source of information There are social media posts for Gen Z voters of color. And Ocasio-Cortez proves adept at uncovering complex topics and communicating achievements in shareable digital formats. For example, he easy-to-digest twitter graphics (Her Twitter and Instagram accounts have 13.4 million and 8.5 million followers, respectively) The IRA’s climate investments could potentially reach more young voters msnbc segment (average primetime 105,000 viewers ages 25-54,

Ocasio-Cortez Has a Plan Even When Policy Accomplishments Aren’t top issues pimp up. For example, after dobbs decision, we presented young voters in focus groups with action items they promoted on social media, including opening abortion clinics on federal land. A young voter appreciated it, Saying, “That’s what we need. Here are the steps. It’s tangible.

Additionally, Ocasio-Cortez’s combative tone about abortion access reflects the attitudes of young voters. A vote Gen Z and Millennial adults reveal the top feelings they felt towards them dobbs The decision was anger (24%). AOC caught this violation on June 28, 2022 do, where she thumbed her nose at Republicans for showing her followers how to avoid abortion restrictions. And this past week, when a federal judge moved to suspend access to medication abortion, he called out the Biden administration. just defy the judge,

The Biden administration and Democrats have begun using some elements of Ocasio-Cortez’s playbook by meeting with voters in the digital space where they spend their time. At the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, the White House gathered 30 top tiktok To let the stars tell them about the struggle so that they can pass on accurate information to their young followers. and 2023 State of the Union, California Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan brought Olivia JulianaA strategist for the Social Media Activist Group gen z for change, as his guest. Before her speech, Juliana Tweeted Thanks to President Biden for the American Rescue Plan funding that helped him through college. That tweet got more than 750,000 impressions – a far greater reach among young people than primetime cable.

Sustaining long-term political engagement with young people requires embracing relevant messengers who understand the struggles of their generation and live in similar digital and physical spaces. To avoid noise, the message should clearly articulate the direct impact of achievements on young voters’ top issues and guide their feelings about those issues.

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