Allegheny College Report Highlights Innovative Practices of Political Party Committees
What Is Working To Woo Young Voters?
MEADVILLE, Pa., Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- This week more than 2,000 political party organizations and political scientists from across the country will receive a 42-page booklet of practical ideas culled from some of the nation's most innovative programs designed to engage young voters. For example, in Ventura County, Calif., Democrats set up voting registration booths, run in part by young people, at movie theatres during showings of Fahrenheit 9/11. Republicans in Cleveland County, Okla., hosted social events, such as a "Straw Poll-Pizza and Politics" activity, and gave away T-shirts during "Howdy Week," at the beginning of the school year. The Fountain of Youth: Political Parties & the Mobilization of Young Americans, available online at http://cpp.allegheny.edu , is the second piece of a national telephone survey of 805 party chairs representing counties containing 87 percent of the nation's population. The study was conducted by Professor Daniel M. Shea, Director of the College Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College and John C. Green of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. It was commissioned by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at the University of Maryland. The first report of the study -- Throwing a Better Party: Local Mobilizing Institutions and the Youth Vote, April 2004 -- suggested that a vast majority of local political party chairs are not paying attention to young people, even though an overwhelming majority agree that the political disengagement of young people is a serious problem and that parties can make a big difference involving this group. In fact, while roughly nine in ten (88 percent) party leaders say lack of political engagement among youth is a serious problem, and a similar portion (93 percent) feel local parties can make a big difference in getting young people involved in politics, only 41 percent are doing anything specifically to attract young voters. "There was both disturbing and optimistic news in the survey," said Shea. "Party organizations have the potential to play a major role in rejuvenating participation in America, but many find youth mobilization difficult, so they are ignoring this group. However, while traditional party activities aren't working for young people, those party organizations that are trying novel programs, such as unique social activities, interactive web sites, and peer- to-peer outreach, are having success." The second step of the project -- reported here -- was to re-interview selected party leaders and to carefully document the programs that seem to be working. The Fountain of Youth illustrates examples of successful programs used to mobilize the youth vote at the national, state and county organizational levels. In all, ten county committees, seven state committees, and both the national party organizations are profiled. The report concludes with a "lessons learned" section of recommendations. "In many respects, today's report, which presents detailed case studies of some of the most creative organizations we encountered, is more useful than the statistical results of the survey. Obviously some groups have already written off the young vote, but we believe that's a big mistake. If party organizers will roll up their sleeves and mix these ideas with a little ingenuity of their own, they can develop strategies and programs that will make a big difference," said Shea. "It's not too late." Ten Lessons Learned Based on their review of best practices by political parties with regard to mobilizing young voters, Shea and co-author Green developed a set of general lessons for reaching young voters. 1. Leadership is extremely important 2. Target youth on their turf 3. Get young people involved at every opportunity 4. Give young volunteers meaningful work 5. Make it fun whenever possible 6. Make use of different outreach technologies 7. Peer-to-peer programs are effective 8. Reward achievement 9. Merge with like-minded youth groups 10. Look to combine service with partisanship The state and county committees included in the study * The Delaware Democratic Party * The Indiana Republican Party * The Maryland Republican Party * The Michigan Democratic Party * The Mississippi Republican Party * The Wisconsin Democratic Party * The Tennessee Republican Party * Miami-Dade County Democrats, Florida * Cameron County Republicans, Texas * Ventura County Democrats, California * Cleveland County, Republicans, Oklahoma * Story County Democrats, Iowa * Garland County Republicans, Arkansas * Orange County Democrats, North Carolina * Hillsborough County Republicans, Florida * Otero County Republicans, New Mexico * Benton County Democrats, Washington Allegheny College, where 2,000 students with unusual combinations of interests, skills and talents excel. http://www.allegheny.edu
SOURCE Allegheny College
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