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How To Talk About Abortion Rights So Young People Will Engage.
We looked at over 3.75 million online messages to understand how communicators can galvanize young voters around reproductive rights.
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Young Americans Are The Group Most Likely To Support Abortion Rights, But The Least Likely To Connect Them To Politics. Here’s How To Change That.
BIG TAKEAWAY: Young people are responding most to abortion rights messages emphasizing threats to their freedoms - posts saying the Texas law will “force” women to bear children are especially resonant with younger voters.
Americans under 35 are the least likely group to mention abortion rights in the context of partisan politics.
The word “freedom” is most likely to be used in connection with abortion by Americans under 35.
Posts describing anti-abortion laws as “forcing” women to carry unwanted pregnancies resonate most strongly with Americans under 35.
SLEEPER TAKEAWAY: The phrase “right to choose” generates the least amount of enthusiasm among younger voters.
The recent Texas abortion law, and the decision by the Supreme Court to let the law stand, generated a huge backlash among supporters of reproductive rights and led political pundits to speculate whether the controversy could affect electoral politics in the near term.
Polls tell us that younger Americans support abortion rights more than any other age group:
Yet, what the polls won’t tell you is that young people are also the group least likely to connect abortion to partisan politics.
Here is what the overall conversation about abortion rights looked like since the Supreme Court decision on September 1 - it’s fairly evenly distributed by age:
But when either political party is mentioned, the distribution skews much older:
In spite of being most supportive of abortion rights in the polls, younger people are the least likely group to blame Republicans for attacking those rights - or credit Democrats for supporting them.
How can Democrats break through to these younger Americans, who should be slam-dunk Democratic voters on this issue?
The answer is definitely not in the phrase “right to choose” - here’s the age distribution on that phrase, and young people under 35 are the least likely to use it:
However, when talking in terms of freedom - and the ways in which freedom is being threatened - the entire chart changes.
And when posts mention being “forced” to carry a child - a phrase used in two of the top 5 most-shared posts about abortion since 9/1 - the chart skews similarly young:
#2 Most-Shared Post (also uses the word “freedom”):
#5 Most-Shared Post:
Bottom line: People under 35 are ripe for political activation on the issue of abortion, but Democrats have to get the message right. Their best chance to reach these voters is by using the language of freedom - and framing anti-abortion laws as forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies. But they also need to remind these voters which party is attacking their freedom - and which party is defending it.