Generational shifts are transforming American politics, pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson told attendees of LABI’s annual meeting during her morning keynote address.
If Republicans want to win over millennials—as well as the increasingly left-leaning Generation Z—they’ll have to speak to those generations’ core values of care and fairness. They’d be smart to do so now, as some of the youngest millennials will vote through 2076.
“Winning over a consumer when they’re young means you can have a lifetime of brand loyalty,” said Anderson, the co-founder of research firm Echelon Insights who authored “The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America.”
While most people’s moral foundations are shaped by care, fairness, loyalty, authority and sanctity, younger people are far more likely to care about the first two aspects, while older generations focus on the latter three.
Part of that is because of the major political events that happened when millennials were 14 to 24 years old, considered the most transformative age range in terms of shaping political ideology. They grew up with 9/11, the war in Iraq, the 2008 financial crisis and school shootings, causing them to question traditional figures of authority and be more risk-averse.
All of which leads to the big question: Can institutions, including corporations, appeal to and adapt to a new generation without losing the old?
While she’s identified through her research some adjectives different generations want to exemplify—caring, hardworking, intelligent—she says it’s important for Republicans not to lose the generation, which overwhelmingly voted for Obama and Clinton. Young women are the voters driving the shift, she says.
“We’ve internalized a lot of criticism,” Anderson said. “But the political impact of the millennial generation is growing.”
Anderson’s research on millennial attitudes has been featured in The New York Times Magazine and she regularly speaks to audiences of corporate leaders and public officials about how to reach the millennial generation.