College - Author 1

College of Liberal Arts

Department - Author 1

Communication Studies Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BA in Communication Studies



Primary Advisor

Bethany Conway, College of Liberal Arts, Communication Studies Department


Young voters are not voting. According to the United States Census Bureau, young voters, aged 18-29, have not turned out to vote in Presidential Elections at a rate higher than 50% since 1968. Millions of ballots – with the potential to swing elections, policies, and political momentum – are left blank. It is in the interest of both parties to identify why young voters are not going to the polls. In order to understand what makes political messaging persuasive to younger voters, this study presented participants with actual campaign speeches made by Democrats and Republican candidates for office. The author hypothesized that young voters would display higher evaluation scores for younger speakers, speakers that identified with the same political party as respondents, and speakers who convey messages that align with respondents’ value structures. To test the hypotheses, a survey embedded experiment was utilized to test respondents’ values and respondents’ affinity with one of four randomly assigned political candidates with differing age, political identification, and political messages. Nearly every result from this study contradicted the author’s hypotheses. The data necessitates readers to ask themselves a series of epistemological questions, asking readers to look inward and understand why they hold their beliefs and what is preventing them from changing their beliefs; the present research suggests there may be more factors affecting readers’ political opinions than the sheer content of politicians' policies.