Saturday, December 14, 2013

How Does Wendy Win? (Part V)

The youth vote, which I mentioned in a previous post, will be instrument to a Wendy win. So let’s look at Millennials and what their preferences are likely to be in the 2014 gubernatorial contest and, just as importantly, whether they will vote in significant numbers.

Millennials constitute those persons born since 1982, which means that the oldest members of the generation will be 32 in 2014. In analyzing the 2012 election and the contribution of those voters who were 18-29, William Galston and Elaine Kamarck provided this assessment:
In 2008, Barack Obama commanded an astonishing 66 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds, 13 points better than his overall national share of the vote. He did not do quite as well in 2012, but still hit 60 percent among young adults, 9 points better than his 51 percent national share.
Today’s young adults are the most diverse cohort—racially, ethnically, religiously—in American history, as Morley Winograd and Michael Hais pointed out in a prescient analysis of young people called Millennial Makeover, published in time to explain Obama’s first victory. Growing up taking this diversity for granted has made them instinctively tolerant on a range of social issues. The vast majority support immigration reform and cannot understand why there is even an argument about same-sex marriage. Even those who identify as conservative lean toward libertarianism on social issues. . . .For many of today’s young adults, environmentalism is a secular religion.
. . . .Eighteen-to-29-year-olds have experienced more than a decade of costly and controversial wars, and they are intensely skeptical about the wisdom of overseas military engagements—especially boots on the ground. They agree with the President’s call for “nation building here at home,” not only because they believe it has failed abroad but also because they see needs in their own lives—education and health insurance, among others—that government must help them meet. A greater share of young adults than older Americans favors a larger government that does more, and, as we saw, more of them are willing to self-identify as “liberal.” 

The question is, of course, are Texas Millenials like their national counterparts. There were no exit polls for Texas in 2012; so we’ll consider the 2010 gubernatorial exit polls in Texas:
Vote by Age, Texas Governor (2010)
Age (% of Voters)
Bill White
Rick Perry
Other/No Answer
18-24   (4%)
25-29   (5%)
30-39 (13%)
40-49 (21%)
50-64 (38%)
65 +    (20%)

Age also affects political participation in Texas:

Judging by the chart depicting age and political participation in Texas, registration and voter turnout is a major obstacle to mobilizing the youth vote for Wendy’s campaign. What would motivate Millennials to take the steps necessary to participate? First, the Davis campaign must recognize the diversity that characterizes the Millennial Generation. A CIRCLE study of American youth notes the different clusters among America’s youth. In 2010, the study discovered the following clusters and their percentages:

Not surprisingly, youth, like older adults, specialize in terms of their civic engagement. Two groups—the civically alienated and broadly engaged—make up nearly half (44.5 percent) of youth. Political specialists make up an additional 17.5 percent. Talkers are 13 percent, and the under mobilized are nearly 14 percent. What characterizes each category and how can they be enticed into supporting Wendy?

Youth who occupy the “broadly-engaged” category will be easily mobilized. According to the report:
The group was defined by their engagement in a broad range of civic activities. They were the only young people who worked with neighbors, attended community meetings, took leadership roles in community organizations, and volunteered on a regular basis. Put differently, one-fifth of the youth population undertook a vast majority of community and volunteering work for the entire youth population. White, college-educated, high-income youth were overrepresented in this cluster. Almost three quarters of young people in this group attended college and more than 30% had completed a four-year degree. Women were also overrepresented in this group. 

The “political specialists” are also easily mobilized. They are similar in some respects to those in the broadly engaged category, but differ in gender and types of civic engagement:
They were most likely to engage in non-electoral political acts such as boycotting a product or contacting public officials about issues in the community (34.0%) and to belong to a group or association (80.6%). Sixty-five percent of them were registered to vote and 37.8% voted. By contrast, young people in this cluster did not volunteer or work with neighbors on issues in the community (0% on both measures).  Like members of the Broadly Engaged group, young people in the Political Specialists cluster were highly educated and had relatively high household incomes, and White youth were overrepresented. In contrast to the Broadly Engaged group, this cluster included a disproportionate number of males. . . . The Political Specialists of 2010 were more likely to engage in political activities than their Broadly Engaged peers, while in 2008, the Political Specialists engaged almost exclusively in political activities but at a lower rate than the Broadly Engaged cluster. This finding may suggest that the young people who fell into the Political Specialists cluster may have been mobilized specifically for the presidential campaigns that targeted young people who would not otherwise engage in political activism, particularly by leveraging social media. On the other hand, the 2010 Political Specialists cluster comprised a group of young people who engage in political activities more regularly, and independent of presidential campaigns. 

The “under mobilized” category seems ripe for political engagement, but they must be appealed to by the campaign and its message:
This group was also unlikely to engage in any other way, including discussing politics with others. Within this group, 40.6% turned out to vote in 2010. Though they turned out at a higher rate than average, almost 60% of the registered voters in this group did not vote. We term this group Under-Mobilized, given their moderate turnout in comparison to their 100% registration rate. This group of young people might comprise voters who registered during the 2008 campaign and remained relatively unmobilized during the 2010 elections. The most notable feature of this group’s demographic profile is that African-American youth were overrepresented in this group. 20.8% of all young people who fall into this category identified as African American (compared to about 10% in the overall sample). We do not have definitive information about which of the youth in the Under-Mobilized cluster were new registrants during the 2008 election cycle. However, a cohort of people who were 19-21 years old in 2008 and 21-23 in 2010 were the most likely to be in the under-mobilized category in the latter year. Thus, it is possible that the potential voters who were registered and perhaps voted in 2008 did not return to vote in 2010, and otherwise remained disengaged.

The final group that we will consider are called “talkers” because of their form of civic engagement:
The fifth group included young people (13.0%) who stayed current by discussing political issues with others but were otherwise disengaged. A little over half of them were registered to vote and slightly over one quarter (26.8%) turned out to vote. We label this cluster the Talkers. Its membership was not very different demographically from the 18-to 29-year-old cohort as a whole. However, they were more likely to be male, slightly younger, and less likely to have their own children. They were also very likely (81.5%) to be highly connected to family and friends via the Internet. This cluster might represent a group of young people who are interested in political issues but have not had a chance to participate or simply have not been asked to participate. Because this group is well-connected to family and friends through social media and the Internet, the young people in this cluster may have a potential to be mobilized using newer Internet technologies.

The following is from the summary section of the report:
Most of the civic activities that take time, commitment and advanced skills were undertaken primarily by young people in two clusters: the Broadly Engaged and the Political Specialists. Broadly Engaged youth took on the bulk of sustained service and community problem-solving activities accomplished by youth, and also contributed much to political participation, while Political Specialists were responsible for much of the political activism. These two clusters made up approximately one-third of the youth population.

What does this study reveal for a campaign that depends on youth as a component of its campaign strategy and tactics? First, the fully engaged and political specialists are primed to participate, but they do need to be mobilized. They are registered to vote; so the emphasis should be on voter turnout. The under mobilized are also registered to vote, but they need to be mobilized and given a reason to vote. The talkers present an interesting challenge since they’re interested in politics, but only about half are registered and a little over a quarter vote. So the challenge is to register them, then vote them. But it’s doable.
The youth vote, given their liberal position on social issues, should prefer Wendy. But they need to be registered, given a reason to vote for her, and then be turned out. Can it happen? Definitely!

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