Get Out The Vote
Get Out The Vote. Doesn’t that sound uplifting?
Aren’t you filled with images of “Father Knows Best” and mothers standing in kitchens wearing shirtwaist dresses?
Or the first televised presidential debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters?
Like all else political, Get Out The Vote efforts (or GOTV as they are known in consultant circles) are just another tool to get over 50%.
Recently, I attended two seminars at a nearby university featuring professors of political communication and, in one case, a political columnist from a local newspaper. Since this was a university setting, the presentations were focused primarily on the students, who were otherwise known as “millennials.”
I was tempted to warn them off the use of the word millennial lest it bore them to death later in their lives much as the words “baby boomer” have driven an older demographic to somnolence.
According to the speakers, there are actually very few swing voters who make decisions at the last minute so it is not especially cost-effective to aim GOTV their way. Their votes are simply too expensive to buy.
In the case of Democrats, GOTV efforts are directed at young people, minorities and single women. All three groups are considered low information voters with high rates of staying at home rather than going to the polls.
Again, according to the speakers, they don’t want to be told anything of substance about the election nor do they want to be advertised at. (Yes, I intentionally chose the word “at” rather than “to” and I intentionally ended the sentence with the preposition to make it stand out.) For these groups, the trick is to make voting cool; make the stay-at-home demographic feel that they are part of a group when they go out to vote.
Negative advertising is particularly effective with low-information voters though the campaign manager doesn’t really have to tell them anything as long as he gets them to the poll. Sounds like an advertising bonanza for Tinder.com.
The audience response was interesting. In many cases, the students did not appear to like being talked at and even chastised by the two professors and the columnist. It seemed that the speakers were projecting their own views on the audience, which was not always buying the generalizations.
While voting may be cool, being a Democrat or a Republican is not. Nearly half of millennials are independents and they might be in the process eluding their political handlers.