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E-Blast: 4 Ways to Mobilize Young VotersĀ šŸ—³ļøĀ and New Youth Focus Groups on Biden’s Marijuana AnnouncementĀ šŸ‘„

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HIT NEWSLETTER

4 Ways to Mobilize Young Voters and New Youth Focus Groups on Biden’s Marijuana Announcement

To:         Interested Parties 
From:    Ashley Aylward, pollster and senior researcher at HIT Strategies
Date:     October 31, 2022
Re:        4 Ways to Mobilize Young Voters and New Youth Focus Groups on Biden’s Marijuana Announcement 
In 2020, a surge in support from young voters helped Joe Biden capture the presidency. As we head into the midterm elections, retaining the support of young voters should remain a high priority of Democratic campaigns. As such, we devised a quick how-to-guide on mobilizing young voters, drawing on 18 months’ worth of focus groups with young voters and a nationally-representative poll of college students: 
1. Display Passion & Make On-The-Ground Appearances like AOC and Beto O’Rourke. In focus groups, young people consistently cite Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Beto O’Rourke as two politicians who are inspiring. This is due to their displays of passion and willingness to get their hands dirty. Young voters want politicians to take novel, sometimes risky actions to show their fight.
  • For example, in a focus group just after the Dobbs decision, a young voter cited AOC getting arrested outside of SCOTUS as proof that she cared deeply about reproductive rights.

  • In focus groups, young people laud Beto for his frequent in-person appearances. Actions like his nonstop tour of Texas show young voters that he isn’t an out-of-touch politician. Videos of his rallies are always amplified on social media, where young people can see them. 

2. Cleary Articulate Steps to Address Major Issues
In the wake of Dobbs, we prompted young voters with AOC’s plan to respond to the ruling. Many reacted positively to her support for opening abortion clinics on federal lands, among other policies, to expand abortion access.  
Her Instagram explainers of how to get around abortion bans represent another example of a tangible, usable response to Dobbs.  
3. The Call to Action: Empower Young Voters to Become Activists, Not Just Voters. Young voters are tired of being told to just vote to advance their key issues, especially on abortion. In the immediate wake of the Dobbs decision, focus group participants felt that voting couldn’t be the only solution.  
When we asked young people what they were doing in response to Dobbs, they mentioned various grassroots actionsā€”protesting, reading, volunteering, etc. Campaign calls to action must tie voting to civic steps that young people are already taking, which they see as valuable and practical. We call this “and vote” messaging. 
Here’s “and vote” messaging in action. Maxwell Frost, who will be the first Gen Zer in Congress, implores a #March4OurLives crowd: 
4. Talk About Your Success on Young Votersā€™ Priorities (Not Just What You Will Do). Democrats have accomplishments to sell to young voters on their top priorities of cost of living, gun violence, and climate change.  
For example, student loan debt relief, the bipartisan gun control bill, and the climate investments in the Inflation Reduction Act address the top concerns of the cost of living, gun violence, and climate change. Young focus group participants respond positively when presented with these accomplishments.
Right now, just 52% of college students feel their vote is powerful. But young voters can be activated when presented with messages that tie the power of their vote of successful policy actionā€”72% of college students found the message below to be convincing.  
  • “Young voters have the power to make real change on important issues like police accountability and criminal justice. We’ve already seen it in action: In 2018, young voters in Chicago were fed up with unchecked police brutality and came together to elect candidates who created a police oversight board to hold police accountable. Want to see that happen? Use your vote this election to demand action because being part of 37% of the electorate means that we hold the greatest power to hold elected officials accountable.” 

Young Voters React to Biden’s Marijuana Executive Order

In recent HIT focus groups, young voters were overwhelmingly supportive of Bidenā€™s executive order on marijuana. They noted this was a step in the right direction and stated these laws disproportionately affected communities of color. 

One voter expressed this would set a positive example for other countries to follow and amend their laws as well. 
Another voter agreed with the initiative and stated this policy would attract young and minority voters. 
One young white voter conveyed that criminalizing marijuana wastes resources. 
Another young white voter said the war on drugs was a systemic racist institution and shaped the current criminal justice system. 
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