|Mask of Sanity|
It is not that young voters are enamored of the Democratic Party. They simply dislike the Republican Party more. In the focus group research conducted in January 2013, the young “winnable” Obama voters were asked to say what words came to mind when they heard “Republican Party.” The responses were brutal: closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.
When all of Congress has an approval rating barely hovering above a single digit, the thought that one party is disliked more than another carries little weight. Unless, of course, your plan is to make voters dislike the other party more only for the self-serving reason of being in power.
When someone purchases a product, in some ways they are buying into the value system espoused by the brand. With a list of attributes like that, who would want to buy the product the GOP is selling?
Yes, but this report does not address changing the product.
Respondents were given a long list of positive options, including some words that conventional wisdom would suggest are highly important to this generation: tolerant, cool, creative, unique. Yet the results did not suggest this is a generation that wants to be seen as cool, or adventurous, or creative.
Instead, they want to be thought of as smart.
Asked which words least described the GOP, respondents gravitated toward “open-minded” (35%), “tolerant” (25%), “caring” (22%), and “cooperative” (21%). Theoretically, the good news in all of this is that while the Republican Party’s negative brand is being driven heavily by a perceived lack of open-mindedness and caring, the other brand attributes that matter to young people – intelligence, a strong work-ethic, and competence – are not out of reach and are certainly up for grabs. Respondents were also asked what they thought of the Democratic Party. Just as the Republican Party loses on the “open-minded” attribute, the Democrats win it with 33% of respondents saying the word best describes the Democratic Party. This is followed by “tolerant” at 26%. Of note, 14% of young voters say they think of the Democratic Party as “intelligent” – the same proportion that see the Republican Party that way.
This doesn’t just mean putting up a Facebook page and calling it a day. This means having a campaign website that is seamlessly accessed from a mobile device, that encourages supporters to text in their support, that is optimized to get a message across to the girl at the gym listening to Pandora on her headphones and the guy watching clips of last night’s Daily Show on his iPad. It means really studying the shows that young people are watching and occasionally buying some TV time there, or at least buying advertising time on Hulu and other streaming video sources. Most importantly, it means creating online content that is interesting, funny, or positive, and that makes someone want to share it with their friends because it makes them seem interesting and funny. As young voters increasingly distrust campaign advertising, finding ways to get supporters to put their “seal of approval” on a video or post by sharing and retweeting is essential to giving your message the credibility that will let you change minds.
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Yet across all six groups, when the topic turned to future leaders of the parties, the GOP was clearly in a stronger position. Asked to name up-and-coming Republican stars, these young Obama voters could point to a number of examples. Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, and Rand Paul were all mentioned.
Sterling examples of the Republican Party.