By Laura Flores

In addition to our main organizing and voter contact programs, we wanted to test out new and interesting tactics for the final stretch of the 2020 cycle. Here’s what we learned, and why it matters:

Tactic 1: Online Communities

What is it: NextGen is always looking to meet young voters where they are at. One thing we know for sure is that 18–35-year-olds are very online. Most people are a part of one or multiple online communities, even if they don’t view it that way. An online community could be a university class Facebook page, your neighborhood good eats Facebook group, a subreddit about a local NBA team, or a group of hashtags frequently used on TikTok. We had previously tested online community outreach for organization-wide days of action like Vote By Mail Day. …


By LaMar Thompson-Hightower

Social media during COVID-19, civil rights protests, and the 2020 election pushed our team to be more compassionate, creative, and strategic than ever before. Our team’s social media program consisted of three priority platforms — Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter — and three additional platforms — TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn. In 2020, we’ve seen significant increases in audience growth and engagement across all platforms; most notably, we grew our Instagram following ~82%.

Our social media team consisted of three full-time staff members. Laura Flores (Social Media Manager), Safa Eltaib (Social Media Associate), and LaMar Thompson-Hightower (Social Media Associate). With the help of the entire Digital Communications Team, including paid media and an Influencer Program, we were able to leverage our social media to build upon our 2018 outreach to young voters and previously non-political young people. …


The new new media: you can run an influencer program (and should)

NextGen recruited 869 influencers in battleground states to encourage their combined following of 63M+ people to vote, and vote for Democrats. The program was built from scratch in-house, the content was unscripted, and the results were weird and beautiful. Here’s how we did it, and why you can too.

The case for influencer programs:

For progressive digital organizers and advertisers this cycle, things were… challenging. …


By Ben Wessel, Executive Director, NextGen America

Every election brings with it questions about young voter turnout: namely, will they or won’t they? Headlines about “lazy” and “apathetic” Gen Z’ers and millennials are par for the course in political commentary.

In 2020, uncertainty over youth turnout was even more rampant than usual. The coronavirus pandemic shut down tried and true methods of voter engagement, like clipboarding for voter registrations on campuses and canvassing in neighborhoods. What’s more, after a historically diverse Democratic primary, we entered the general election with a Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, who had a dismal -22 favorability rating with young Americans. …


by NextGen America Executive Director, Ben Wessel

Check out this bonkers stat from a precinct at the University of Central Florida in Orlando:

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Though we aren’t getting the overall results we want in Florida, this is a bright sign for the enthusiasm of young voters. It seems that every registered voter who lives in the precinct showed up to vote, and then new folks who moved into the precinct changed their address at the polls. NextGen Florida has been instrumental to the work at UCF: We made 1,377 calls and sent 2,258 texts to people who live in this precinct and registered 1,390 voters at UCF. …


by NextGen America Executive Director, Ben Wessel

Soaring youth turnout was the story of the early vote, but it seems like Gen Z and millennials weren’t ready to call it quits yet! We’re seeing the energy from the past few weeks persist today around the country. Here’s a “Top 5” of some of the most exciting signs from student and campus turnout — and they’re all campuses where NextGen America has been organizing all year long:

1) WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY — Seeing enthusiastic students waiting in line in Kalamazoo is a good sign for Democrats excited about swinging Michigan back to blue in the presidential race, as well as for progressive candidate for the US House Jon Hoadley in MI’s 6th congressional district! …


By NextGen America Executive Director, Ben Wessel

NextGen had a HUGE weekend of voter contact, and we’re still going strong. You know the drill: Sign up here to volunteer.

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FLORIDA UPDATE

Yesterday was the last day of Early Vote in Florida, and with election projections showing Florida as a possible early decider of the presidential race, here’s a breakdown of where things stand with young voters in the Sunshine State:

  • 193,122 “low turnout” progressives targeted by NextGen voted early. That’s nearly the size of the combined enrollments at UF, Florida State, University of Central Florida, and University of South Florida. …

By NextGen America Executive Director, Ben Wessel

Today, we’re taking a look at the incredible early numbers coming in from North Carolina. Notably, 108,262 “low turnout” progressives targeted by NextGen NC have already voted. That’s roughly the size of the combined enrollments of UNC, NC State, East Carolina, and Duke (extra emphasis on the fact that these young people not only voted, but voted early). We expect to see even more young people show up on Election Day now that early voting has concluded in the Tar Heel State.

More NC tidbits:


By NextGen America Executive Director, Ben Wessel

Happy Halloween, folks! There’s officially less than 100 hours until polls close, and the NextGen America team has kicked into high gear to get all the young goblins and ghouls out there to the polls!

BIG NUMBERS INCOMING

NextGen has been prepping for this weekend for two years and our progress has just far surpassed anything I could have imagined. Some eye-popping stats from the NextGen America team:

  • We’ve gathered 441,630 pledges to vote from young voters in battleground states this year (116% to our ambitious goal of 381,000 pledges we set this spring). …

By NextGen America Executive Director, Ben Wessel

CHECK. THIS. OUT.

We just got back our final October battleground youth poll (AKA the “Youth Vote Vibe Check”) and it’s got some eye-popping news. 80% of young voters in battleground states say they are “definitely” voting in this election or have already voted. It’s a 10-point jump from July, (when 70% reported they would “definitely” cast a ballot) and it’s a HUGE deal, especially considering that another 11% report they will “probably” cast a ballot. We’re on our way to record youth vote turnout.

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The poll also shows Biden commanding a 32-point lead (63% to 31%) over Trump among likely young voters. Bottomline: Young people are showing up with Obama ’08-style intensity.

About

NextGen America

Mobilizing the #YouthVote across 11 states. Visit us at nextgenamerica.org to learn how you can join the fight.

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