Study Evaluates Political Messaging Approaches

Issue-based messages like “I vote because there are important issues that deserve my attention and action” are more likely to drive voters to the polls than messages of empowerment (“I matter as a member of society and so does my vote”) and identity (“I am a voter”), according to research released Tuesday at Advertising Week by the Ad Council and Democracy Works.

Although issue-based messaging works across all generations, Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to be inspired by messages of empowerment.

The research suggests Gen Z is well-aware of their generation’s potential voting power, and they are eager to participate. "Many in this generation see their first vote as they would other big milestones," states the research.

Younger voters are also more likely than older voters to report being engaged in election-related activities (beyond tracking candidates and debates) like sharing voting information, helping friends vote, and contributing their own time to campaigns.



While all generations encourage others to vote, younger generations (Gen Z and millennials) are more willing to be publicly vocal about specific candidates and issues they support.

The goal of this research is designed to provide insights and messaging frameworks to help organizations more effectively communicate with potential voters of all ages.

“This is the first year Gen Z is going to be significantly represented in a national election – so it’s critical that communicators understand the nuances of what messaging drives this and each generation to the polls," says Derrick Feldmann, lead researcher and managing director, Ad Council Edge.

Seth Flaxman, CEO, Democracy Works adds he hopes this information helps to "dramatically" increase voter turnout rates in America. "Through sharing this research with our large voter engagement coalition of colleges, nonprofits and corporations, we’ll be able to partner that technology with best practice messages and fundamentally improve the health of our democracy.”

The full report is available for download here.

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