Research Methodology

Our findings are based on a mixed-method research approach: 1) social listening; 2) qualitative (online discussion + interviews); and 3) quantitative (online survey). For each phase, we analyzed findings across all four generations (baby boomers, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z) and demographics (African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans (both English- and Spanish-speaking), military veterans and rural residents).

Phase 1: Social Listening

Objective: This research phase was designed to uncover existing perceptions about voting by reviewing posts and conversations across social media, blogs, forums and comment sections on news sites and other websites.

Details: Social listening tools captured online conversation that took place from January 1, 2016 through April 30, 2019. The analysis placed emphasis on understanding generational differences and motivations in relation to voting, which were then mapped to message frames defined by the Ad Council.

Phase 2: Qualitative

(Online Discussion + Webcam Interviews)

Objective: This research phase was designed to determine overall attitudes and perceptions of voting; to uncover reactions to specific message frames; and to explore what differences, if any, exist among generations.

Details: A two-day online discussion with 73 participants, followed by eight webcam interviews, explored voting perceptions and reactions to message frames.

Panel Demographics:

  • Born on or before Nov. 4, 2002 (to ensure participants were of voting age)
  • Mix of income
  • National sample (mix of regions)
  • Mix of urban, suburban, rural
  • Even split of generations (~400 from each): boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z
  • Subgroups and oversamples within each generation: Caucasian / African American / Asian American Hispanic American3 / Military Veteran

Phase 3: Quantitative (Online Survey)

Objective: This research phase was designed to specifically determine the most compelling get out the vote message frames for each generation and to uncover any differences among generations and other demographic groups.

Details: A 15-minute online survey fielded from July 3-14, 2019, completed by 1,619 respondents (with approximately 400 respondents per generation), who evaluated message frames across a number of different areas.

Panel Demographics:

  • All panel participants were born on or before Nov. 4, 2002 (to ensure participants would be of voting age by the 2020 U.S. election)
  • Participants were representative of the U.S. population, based on U.S. Census data for age, gender, ethnicity, household income, division, and urbanicity
  • 95% confidence level
  • Participants were unique and did not participate in qualitative methods for the study
  • Even split of generations (~400 from each): baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z
  • Generation population data was weighted to be representative of generation proportions, including race and gender, based on U.S. Census data.