In an election year, all eyes are on voter turnout. While some experts are predicting record...
At a time when the country seems to be more polarized than ever, the general election in November will ultimately be decided not by which side scores more political points, but by which party turns out more people to vote in the right places.
With that goal in mind, both parties are ramping up efforts to register new voters and make sure that people who are already on the voter rolls turn out to the polls or take advantage of early voting opportunities. Here’s a look at what’s happening, and what it could mean in November.
Regardless of which candidate ends up receiving the Democratic nomination for president, many efforts are underway to ensure that voters show up to vote for that nominee, particularly in states that Barack Obama won in 2012 but Donald Trump won in 2016.
Democrats hope to get a boost from younger voters in November’s election. In February, former Vice President Al Gore launched a new voter registration effort centered around climate change, an issue that resonates with younger voters in a way that few other issues do.
The campaign will focus on key swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas, and Florida.
“We are at a political tipping point, thanks in large part to Greta Thunberg and millions of other young people speaking truth to power,” Gore said in a press release. “With the courage and moral clarity they bring to the climate movement, and the power of grassroots organizing behind them, young people will, I’m confident, be a driving force for climate action this November.”
Progressive groups are also taking to social media platforms to recruit young voters. Last year, the group ACRONYM pledged $10 million to advertise voter registration on apps like Instagram and Snapchat.
The group also hopes to evoke a sense of “FOMO” among Generation Z by providing a way for people to look up whether their friends are registered to vote and apply peer pressure if needed. Voter registration data is publicly available, which means that it is available for apps and other third-party services to access.
Silicon Valley is even getting behind the voter registration effort. A group called Mind the Gap, a group of Silicon Valley donors, plans to raise $30 million this year to support the Voter Participation Center, Center for Voter Information, and Everybody Votes — three voter registration programs.
Like their Democratic counterparts, the Republican Party is also stepping up efforts to register young voters ahead of November’s election. Last fall, the Republican National Committee launched the “Make Campus Great Again” initiative targeted specifically at college students.
Again, the efforts are largely focused on swing states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin — all of which happen to have large universities with tens of thousands of potential voters.
According to the Associated Press, Democratic voters ages 18-22 outnumbered Republican voters 2-1 in the 2018 midterms. A central theme to “Make Campus Great Again” draws on the fact that conservative students often feel they don’t have a voice on college campuses with a reputation for being liberal.
“It serves as a way to bring conservative supporters out of the shadows of college campuses and show that they have a home in the Republican movement,” Trump re-election campaign spokeswoman Mandi Merritt told the Associated Press.
Texas Republicans are also ramping up voter registration following the close race between Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke in 2018. According to Houston Public Media, the Texas Republican Party has registered some 50,000 new voters through a mail-in campaign.
Republicans and Democrats are also attempting to court the Latino vote in Texas, which is young and growing. This year, Latinos became the largest minority voting bloc in the country, surpassing African Americans, according to the Pew Research Center. Their numbers are only projected to grow moving forward.
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