First phase of new research reveals voter motivations, knowledge and expected turnout ahead of next election
NEW YORK, Aug. 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Ad Council Research Institute (ACRI) and MTV Entertainment Studios today announced the first results of a collaborative research project aimed at demystifying attitudes and perceptions about voting among millennials and voting-aged Gen Z Americans. As the midterm elections fast approach, the study sheds light on what young people know about voting, what makes them motivation to go to the polls and the turnout expected in November from voters who now represent almost a third of the electorate.
Today’s findings form the first phase of young voter messaging in the 2022 Midterm Report and include environmental scanning, social listening and qualitative analysis designed to understand young voters’ motivations and potential obstacles to the voting process. These early results will inform further quantitative exploration of insights in the next phase of the study to be released in the fall – both phases are being made public and shared with brands and nonprofits to incorporate these learnings into their voting efforts to excite and encourage as many young Americans as possible to vote.
“While the 2018 and 2020 midterm presidential elections broke records for youth voter turnout, there was a gap between those who registered and actual turnout – we need to address that gap,” Brianna said. Cayo Cotter, Senior Vice President of Social Impact for Paramount Media Networks and MTV Entertainment Studios. “We’re excited to be working with the Ad Council to help us better understand issues and motivations beyond access so we can ensure more youth voices are heard.”
While many of the issues that drove record voters to the polls in 2018 and 2020 remain, a high percentage of those voters — more than 90% of voters in every party — are pessimistic about the power of the vote to bring about change and are frustrated. and mad at what is happening in Congress. Regardless of party or candidate affiliation, a significant number of young people believe that American democracy is in trouble. A Spring 2022 Issues Survey from ACRI revealed that 70% of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction, and 58% of all voters (including 56% of voters ages 18-29) think the US system of government needs major reforms or a complete overhaul. In addition, many new state election laws that repeal pandemic-era changes and implement restrictive provisions (such as stricter voter ID and residency requirements) will make it more difficult for young people to register to vote in university towns. It is therefore all the more important that young people understand how to vote and the importance of their involvement in the next Midterms.
“This directional insights and the deeper quantitative analysis coming through our partnership with MTVE will enable many organizations working nationally and locally to activate young voters across the country,” said Derrick Feldmann, researcher Principal and Managing Director of ACRI and Ad Council Edge. “It is essential that we understand not only where to reach young voters, but also what message will prove most effective in the bipartisan effort to mobilize them and ensure their representation in the upcoming midterm elections.”
Today’s research also provides recommendations for those developing campaigns targeting young voters, based on attitudes and actions in elections since 2018. During the 2018 midterm election season , any type of contact with a young person before Election Day improved the likelihood that they would vote. , but knocking on their door and talking to them in person was more effective. In 2020, social issues, including racism, have pushed young adults to the polls. This historic turnout was driven by communication from trusted messengers – peers, educators and civic organizations – as well as the belief of more than 80% of young voters that the election would ultimately affect everyday issues.
Organizations working to increase midterm voter engagement should also consider messaging that educates young voters on how to vote early and demonstrates how issues affect their daily lives within the framework of democracy. This will be more successful in bringing young people to the polls than efforts to persuade them to choose one candidate over another. Campaigns should also seek to engage the largely overlooked bloc of young adults who are not on college campuses currently unregistered to vote, who can be easily reached through social media.
Part of the social listening study was conducted in partnership with social media research firm MarketCast, using proprietary technology to analyze hundreds of thousands of conversations among young social media users (aged 13-29), especially around voting and political issues, and across all major social platforms. The analysis found that marginalized communities are among the most vocal around voting, as are young people in states with headline issues. This age group prefers quick, informal, and objective messages through platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Notably, much of this content includes engaging videos that are objective and non-partisan, instead focusing on social issues and their impact on ties to a specific political party. Growing up in the age of “fake news,” young users are looking for influencers and talent they deem trustworthy to provide unbiased truth about campaign rhetoric. 86% of users aged 13-29 get their political news directly from social media (mainly Instagram and TikTok) and prefer messages that are both informal and visual.
In addition to the environmental scan and social listening analysis, the qualitative discussion between 30 Gen Z voters and young Gen Y voters (ages 17-29) through a mixture of political ideologies and affiliations revealed that, across all demographic groups, young voters think voting is important. civic duty, though many doubt their vote counts.
The majority of participants say they are motivated to vote by several key social and economic issues like abortion rights, inflation, climate change, gun safety and the rising cost of living. While some point to physical barriers to voting like voter ID laws and polling hours conflicting with working hours, others note high-level barriers that have disenfranchised them: gerrymandering , the division of red/blue states and the structure of the electoral college. .
Of the messaging approaches tested in the discussion, empowerment and issue message frames resonate the most with young voters, while those that highlight voter identity and create a moment were less motivating. For Generation Z and young Generation Y voters, who are educated and informed about the role and impact of midterm elections, messages that reinforce the tangible impact that midterm elections can have and the responsibility of citizens to make their voices heard will probably be the most resonant.
The full report and findings released today are available here.
The next phase of the study will use quantitative methods to further test message frameworks that resonate with young voters, as well as dig deeper into their personalities, knowledge and attitudes about voting, and educational gaps around the voting process. The research will also seek to better understand what actions young voters believe will truly produce social change, and what factors would make them feel that their vote is essential to our democracy.
This collaboration between ACRI and MTVE will contribute to key insights available to brands and causes across the country to drive voter turnout among this growing and vital demographic in the coming semesters of 2022.
About the Advertising Council and ACRI
The Ad Council is where creativity and causes converge. The nonprofit organization brings together the most creative minds in advertising, media, technology and marketing to tackle many of the most important causes in the country. The Ad Council has created many of the most iconic campaigns in advertising history. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Smoked bear. Love has no labels.
Ad Council’s innovative social good campaigns raise awareness, inspire action and save lives. To learn more, visit AdCouncil.orgfollow the Ad Council communities on Facebook and Twitterand display the creation on Youtube.
The Ad Council Research Institute (ACRI) uses Ad Council’s insight-driven approach to examine some of the most important social issues of our time. Drawing on years of research expertise, ACRI works with brands, businesses, and nonprofit partners and clients in four ways: we conduct research to better understand perceptions, attitudes, and will of the public to act on social problems. We develop and test messages and stories for social good campaigns. We help build knowledge about the role influencers or trusted messengers can play in spurring audiences to action and we identify key performance indicators for communication initiatives, as well as tools to measure, evaluate and optimize them over time. Learn more about ACRI and our 2022 research program here.
About Paramount Media Networks and MTV Entertainment Studios
Paramount Media Networks & MTV Entertainment Studios is one of the world’s leading media entities that connects to global audiences through its nine iconic brands – MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, CMT, Pop, Logo, Smithsonian, Paramount Network and TV Land. MTV Entertainment Studios produces acclaimed series and films as well as the award-winning and Oscar-nominated MTV documentaries.
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