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

Report reveals top messages to drive voter engagement for Gen Z, millennial, Gen X and baby boomer generations

NEW YORK, NY, September 24, 2019 - The Ad Council and Democracy Works 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 attitudes and perceptions toward voting messages 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.

“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.”

“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.”

This research was one of the inaugural projects of Ad Council Edge, the Ad Council’s new strategic consultancy. The 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 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.

Democracy Works is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that improves civic participation by simplifying and modernizing the voting process for voters and election administrators.

The Ad Council is where creativity and causes converge. The non-profit organization brings together the most creative minds in advertising, media, technology and marketing to address many of the nation’s most important causes. The Ad Council has created many of the most iconic campaigns in advertising history. Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Smokey Bear. Love Has No Labels. Its innovative social good campaigns raise awareness, inspire action and save lives. To learn more, visit, follow the Ad Council’s communities on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and view the creative on YouTube.

Ellyn Fisher, SVP, Marketing & Communications, the Ad Council


Tanene Allison, Communications Director, Democracy Works