Takeaway 1: In general, people are excited to vote and engage in this civic duty.
Takeaway 2: All generations are most inspired by Issue messaging; key generational differences exist for the next most relevant message.
Takeaway 3: Gen Z is just as excited about and engaged in voting activity as are other generations – if not more. They find messages that speak to Issues and Empowerment to be appealing, relevant, sharable, believable – and, most importantly, messages that would inspire them to vote.
FINDING 1: KEY TAKEAWAYS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Voting is Valued
Individuals across all four generations understand voting’s importance in the democratic process. Most greatly value their right to vote, view voting as a civic duty and encourage family and friends to vote.
- Most believe voting is critical to American democracy and are optimistic that every vote counts.
- Encouragement to vote among family and friends is common, but most try to avoid politics with acquaintances and on social media.
Recommendation: Create messages/narratives that speak to issues and remind voters that they have the power to take action on those issue(s) through participation such as voting.
Younger Generations are More Vocal
- Key generational differences arise when it comes to talking about politics and voting. Overall, millennials and Gen Z are more open about politics and voting compared to their older counterparts.
- Millennials and Gen Z are more active in encouraging others to vote compared to baby boomers and Gen X.
- Millennials are most likely to share their political views on social media.
- Boomers are more private than younger generations; they are less likely to share political views on social media, wear “I Voted” stickers or encourage others to vote.
Recommendation: Keep generational differences in mind when seeking to influence peer-to-peer discussion and participation. Asking older generations to discuss voting activity with others may not be well-received.
FINDING 2: Messages that speak to Issues have the broadest appeal across all generations, followed by messages of Empowerment and Identity.
Finding 2: Key Takeaways & Recommendations
Across all four generations and demographics, the Issue message frame ranked highest or nearly highest. It was the strongest message frame ranking the most appealing, believable and relevant — and the one most inspiring to get people out to vote.
- After Issue, older generations (boomers and Gen X) are more drawn to the Identity frame, while younger voters (millennials and Gen Z) are more likely to be inspired by messages of Empowerment.
- Empowerment and Identity were also well-received among respondents, though Gen Z gravitated towards Identity less so than other generations.
- For African American participants, empowerment slightly edged out Issue and Identity as more motivating.
- Among Asian American participants, Issue topped Identity and Empowerment as the most motivating message frame.
- For the most part, English-speaking Hispanic American participants and Spanish-speaking Hispanic American participants expressed similar attitudes towards the message frames.
- However, Issue and Identity messages were somewhat stronger for English-speaking Hispanic American participants than those who are Spanish-speaking:
- Compared to those who are Spanish-speaking, English-speaking Hispanic American participants found the Issue and Identity message territories more believable, with Issue also having more relevance.
- When asked to select the most inspiring message territory, English-speaking Hispanic American participants leaned toward Issue and Identity, while Spanish-speaking Hispanic American participants were split closely among the top three (Issue, Identity and Empowerment).
- Empowerment, Issue and Identity were the strongest messaging territories overall, similar to the general population; though Identity edged out the others as the frame that would most inspire Veterans to vote.
- While issue was the most inspiring message frame for all millennials, rural millennials gravitated toward it even more strongly when forced to pick the most inspiring messaging territory (42% rural millennials vs. 32% overall).
Recommendation: Use Issue messaging when reaching a broad audience, and tailor other messages to different generations and demographics as possible. Appeal to older generations by also tapping into their sense of identity as voters. Younger generations want to hear that they matter in society – and so does their vote. For them, also use the Empowerment message frame to reinforce the importance of each individual’s vote.
Message Frame Recommendations by Generation
While Issue, Empowerment and Identity are the strongest message frames overall, messaging should be tailored to align with the specific needs of each generation.
Messaging to Gen Z should be based on the Issue frame, with elements of Empowerment incorporated (“I matter and, therefore, so does my vote”) to inspire the broadest possible audience to get out and vote.
The Issue message is the most inspiring frame for Gen Z, followed by the Empowerment frame.
Similar to Gen Z, the Issue frame should be used when messaging to millennials. Additionally, if targeting millennials in urban and suburban areas, be sure to highlight voting logistics to ensure voters are aware of the process.
The Issue message is the most inspiring frame for millennials overall; however, urban and suburban millennials also found Plan/Ease messaging appealing and relevant.
When messaging to Gen X, the Identity message frame is likely to be most effective.
The Identity message inspires Gen X to get out and vote more than other message frames.
Communications based in either the Issue or Identity framework inspires boomers to get out and vote.
Issue and Identity messages are equally inspiring to boomers. Compared to other generations, Identity messaging is particularly relevant and believable to boomers.
FINDING 3: Gen Z responds best to the Issue message frame, with Empowerment a close second.
Gen Z panel participants rated both Issue and Empowerment highly as messages that would inspire them to get out and vote. When participants were asked to choose the one frame that would most inspire them to vote, the distinction was clearer: Issue was the clear winner, followed closely by Empowerment and trailed by the other frames.
Finding 3: Key Takeaways & Implications
Gen Z is most inspired by messages related to Issues, and secondly by messages related to Empowerment. Respondents in this generation gravitate toward the Issue message frame because of its positive tone, believability and how it relates to the societal issues they care about. They’re also motivated by the Empowerment message that they matter as a member of society and, therefore, so does their vote.
Recommendation: To drive voter turnout among Gen Z voters, base messages on Issue and/ or Empowerment frames.
Gen Z: Message Frames in Their Own Words
Issue: “It’s very believable. I know this is the main reason I vote, and I like to do my homework on the candidates while keeping up with issues that are important to me.”
Empowerment: “This is the most believable message that could be said about voting. Everyone’s vote matters in the end and helps shape America’s future.”
Identity: “I wouldn’t say being a voter is part of who I am, but I would say it is a very important factor when it comes to my decision making and my day-to-day life.”
Plan/Ease: “For me, it is not realistic. It gives me a sense of laziness or lack of encouragement to vote.”
Companionship: “This message is for those who need people around them to be voting for them to go vote. This person is not someone like me because I vote because I feel like it is the right thing to do.”