Politicians have always had to work extra hard to secure the young vote. It’s like trying to impress the popular kid at school, the payoff is believed to be worth it. Obama capitalized on the trend way back in '08, monopolized it by gathering the most popular group of young people he could find in the US - celebrities.
Young people are more socially conscious than most. I see them tweeting, I tweet too. We involve ourselves in the conversation the only way we know how - shouty, mostly with an argumentative tone, pointing out stuff people already know, not usually offering any alternative.
So why are young people seen to be the most crucial group to get to the polls every election season? Simple, we have all the answers or at least we think we do. It’s that confidence that makes every group of young voters more impactful than the next. Young people who contribute in a political race will make you a better politician. They will spot weaknesses first, they will flip-flop constantly between different political ideologies in a short space of time and they will document it all. They are the perfect case study for any candidate who wants to get elected.
Should politicians be desperate to secure their votes? Damn right they should!
So how do you do it in today's climate?
We spoke previously about immersing yourself where the young voices in our community hang out. This needs no longer be such a physical task, mainly because young people prefer to do all their political commentating online now - behind the username @BerniesBiggestFan2016 or @RevolutionRon. They live around hashtags and causes, find a cause and you’ll find a group of people who you can talk to. However, dig deeper than the stereotypical young people problems that a first-time candidate can’t make a dent in, figure out the real issues that concern Mary from Trenton.
Don’t make promises that you think will earn you a young person's vote. This won’t fly. They will be the first person to call you out on it and it will be done in a public forum instead of a quiet letter sent to your constituency office. Manage your public accordingly by having your agenda set out early and that way, no young voter can accuse you of promising something that you can’t deliver on once elected.
Be visible. Go out and talk to people, all types of people. A young voter will take all this groundwork being done into consideration when voting. I heard a stat recently that people think about politics as little as 5 minutes a week, if that's true then you need to be everywhere else!
Don't be afraid to debate with people just make sure you're educated on the matter. It’s not just the young and newly eligible to vote who feel they have reason to argue. They will oftentimes fight with their fingernails and they won't mind me saying so. What people will have an issue with is a politician or candidate engaging in a conversation in which they aren’t fully knowledgeable on. Show people that you don’t hold all the answers right now but that you will work with them to learn more - that’s the point of being a good representative right?
Invite people to join you on the campaign trail. Politics is all about lowering the barrier to entry and anyone can be part of an election run if they want. Check the CV of any current political operative and I can guarantee they got their start in 2008 or ‘12 on an Obama campaign. Offer opportunities which show that you are willing to give back because nothing beats being there.
Hopefully, these simple point will help you kick-start your voter outreach strategy especially if you are interested in segmenting and really targeting a particular group of voters.
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