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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Meyerson: Dems Should Stress Economic Reforms to Win Young Voters

From “How to Turn Out Young Voters in November” by Harold Meyerson at The American Prospect:

By the evidence of every known survey, today’s young Americans are the leftmost generation in many decades, perhaps in our entire history. But will they vote in sufficient numbers this fall to block a Republican takeover of the Senate and the House?

….A new poll by Hart Research of nine states with closely competitive Senate contests, which oversampled voters under 40 (it polled more than 800 of them), shows, however, that the Democrats can still campaign profitably on the economy, inflation notwithstanding.

Even though Republicans outnumbered Democrats in the poll’s overall sample, young voters in those states favored the Democratic Senate candidates by a 57 percent to 29 percent margin. The top three most important issues to those voters were “prices and inflation,” with 55 percent highlighting that concern; “wages and salaries that keep up with the cost of living,” with 47 percent; and “abortion,” with 43 percent.

The poll then teased out themes from that “wages and salaries” issue. Asked whether companies or workers had too much power today over the other, or whether their power was roughly balanced, 79 percent of young voters said it was the companies that had too much power, versus the 7 percent who said it was workers and the 14 percent who said the relationship was balanced. Seventy-seven percent of young voters said they’d prefer a pro-union candidate, while 23 percent preferred an anti-union candidate. After hearing a description of the PRO Act, which is the latest iteration of congressional legislation making it easier to join or form unions, 64 percent of young voters said they’d back a Democrat who supports the act, while just 22 percent said they’d back a Republican PRO Act opponent.

Singling out swing voters among the young, the way to their hearts, and to get them to the polls, Hart Research concludes, is to emphasize such messages as raising wages and salaries (which 63 percent of those young swing voters say is an “extremely strong reason to support a Democratic candidate”), and making sure that workers are not “punished or even fired” for speaking out about problems on the job (68 percent).

“In other words,” Meyerson concludes, “abortion is still a crucial issue for Democrats to stress, but there’s also some economic messaging, despite inflation, that will help turn out the young.”

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