Democracy Works and The Ad Council Release New Research to Inform “Get out the Vote” Efforts in 2020

Democracy Works and the Ad Council today released a new research report, “Driving Voter Turnout in 2020: Research on Effective Messaging Strategies for Each Generation.” This report is the first to comprehensively explore voting attitudes and messaging perceptions across four generations –Generation Z, millennial, Generation X, and baby boomers – and will be made widely available as a resource to help increase voter turnout.

The full report, which is available for download at, highlights these key findings:

● Messages that speak to Issues (“I vote because there are important issues that deserve my attention and action”) have the broadest appeal across all generations, followed by messages of Empowerment (“I matter as a member of society and so does my vote”) and Identity (“I am a voter”)

● Gen Z is excited about voting and highly engaged in voting-related activities like following debates and sharing information about candidates. This generation responds best to Issue messaging, with Empowerment a close second.

● Despite reports or perceptions that Americans are cynical about the state of politics or democracy today, this research found that most greatly value their right to vote and view voting as a civic duty.

“Democracy Works is leading the effort to dramatically increase voter turnout rates in America, and this research will help us accomplish that goal,” said Seth Flaxman, CEO, Democracy Works. “Our technology, including TurboVote, improves civic participation by simplifying and modernizing the voting process. Through sharing this research with our large voter engagement coalition of colleges, nonprofits and corporations, we’ll be able to partner that technology with best practice messages and fundamentally improve the health of our democracy.”

“The Ad Council harnesses the power of communications to impact the most pressing issues of our time – which includes inspiring Americans to vote and participate in our democracy,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO, the Ad Council. “We are thrilled to make these insights available to all communicators who share our commitment to elevating voting and civic engagement in 2020 and beyond.” 

This mixed methods research included qualitative, quantitative, and social listening methodologies. While the initial report highlights generational attitudes and differences, the research also examined the reactions of additional voting populations including Hispanic Americans, rural Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and military veterans. The Ad Council and Democracy Works will release additional insights from these populations in the coming months.

Tanene Allison2020, Voters, Gen Z