( – promoted by DocHoc)
Hi all – I’m new to BOK but am a longtime blogger and activist for many causes, but particularly understanding more about young voters and working to increase awareness about their impact on the electorate.
Compared to the circle of friends I roll with, I’m a newbie. Many of them have been working to increase turnout among young voters since 2004 or even 2000, and I didn’t come into the game until 2006. But boy when I figured it out did I begin bringing it on home. I’ve also been responsible for feeding research and information to Alicescheshirecat encouraging more blogging about these topics.
Often times we bypass the introductory level information assuming everyone knows about these topics. Therefor, today I’d like to begin a series for an entry level topics to create an understanding of why young voters are important and how they impact an elections, what are frequent mistakes about young voters, what are attitudes of young voters, youth policy and talking about issues, and how to begin a youth program.
Why Young Voters Are Important
In the past 4-6 months we’ve seen the insider politicos and news sources begin to understand why young voters are important. This is in large part to a greater awareness from the unbelievable independent groups across the country that have been working with young voters for the last several years. Some of these folks are now helping Barack Obama’s campaign, that from day one placed an emphasis on young voters and has helped fuel even more of an interest among the Millennial Generation.
Think of it this way… For years people emphasize the importance of outreach to seniors. I don’t refute this, but do seniors turn out because they care or do they turn out because so many candidates focus on them? Its a little like the old philosophy If you Build it They Will Come. If you target people, deliver a message, communicate, engage them, and work to get them to the polls on election day… well… they turn out.
Young people are no different than anyone else. When campaigns focus on them they turn out. And data shows that when they turn out, they vote for democrats and progressive candidates and ideology. (click the image for larger view)
What is unique is that young voters are often times new voters and just beginning their civic life. Seniors have been doing this for a while and like it or not they aren’t going to be around after about 20 years. Young Voter Strategies/Rock the Vote has also found that partisanship is a habit (pdf). If you hook them while they are young, get them to vote just a hand full of times – you have a dedicated partisan for life.
“One of the most robust empirical regularities discovered in political science is that past voting behavior is a good predictor of future voting behavior. In both 2004 and 2006 young voter turnout increased compared to past election cycles. In other words, millions more young adults have voted in past elections and have begun to become habitual voters. Looking ahead to 2008, young voters are likely to turn out in increased numbers once again.”
If you build it… they will come. Most importantly, however, they will stay.
Young voters are overwhelmingly progressive. This year in particular, the Millennial Generation is beginning to feel the Republican Robbery that has stolen their future. The economy is a very serious issue with young voters, and has been for quite a while. The war is close behind. Because these issues are so important they are looking for a candidate that represents a change in the status quo and a change in the policy that has stopped the Millennial Generation from moving forward.
Thus, the reason for recruiting and connecting young voters is to build a longtime force of dedicated voters for progressive policy and progressive candidates. Republicans seem to understand this already. Most times you see churches and youth groups within the churches focusing on these kinds of tactics. Leadership development is important to the GOP, recruiting young candidates and building staffers that are well educated (on the issues not to be confused with Ivy League ed) and well paid to ensure they don’t deviate to other orgs or parties. The Democratic Party is just beginning to understand young voters and the impact of young staffers and candidates. We have social networking sites as an effective connecting tool as well as being right on the issues, but more must be done.
As I continue with my series on Discovering Young Voters I’ll explore how you can use these tools to communicate and recruit young voters.