, April 24, 2024

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The Old Reverse Psychology Trick Worked: "Don't Vote!"

  •   3 min reads
The Old Reverse Psychology Trick Worked:
"Don't Vote!"

Beating the Boomer

It is probably a problem difficult for Filipinos to understand since voter turnout here has historically been high, give or take a few ebbs and surges. We are monomanic about elections; politics is our dayjob, sideline and hobby. According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), 84% of 54,363,329 Filipino voters went to the polls in the last exercise.

Nevermind that it is difficult to vote in the US, election day not being a holiday, lines being long, and processes tortuous and skewed towards one side, the last election, they say, especially so.

According to Alec Beckett, creative director at Nail Communications, prime mover of the campaign, “every election we tell young people to vote and they don’t vote. What if we told them not to vote and ‘we’ were the people who vote regularly and have put this country on its current path?

"This country belongs to whoever shows up. And do you know who shows up for every election? Old people. But only 46% of people 18-34 years old voted in the last election.

The effort was disingenuous.

To be honest, it wasn't addressed to the young but to a narrower subset: the Democrat young. Asking the reluctant progressive to vote is a call to override resistance to a candidate, to vote regardless of problems with the proffered candidate or slate.  Biden was unexciting and nowhere near progressive in predilection, nowhere near Sanders or even Warren, so the goal of the project was to encourage young Democrats to "go out and vote regardless".

"The millennial population and the senior population are about the same size", Beckett wrote. "This discrepancy in turnout is the simple reason that Trump is president, health care is not universal, mentally ill people can buy guns and a thousand other issues - big and small - that are not the way America’s youth would like them to be. So the elderly have a disproportionate influence on our politics and our country. And a lot of them would like to keep it that way."

Did it work? There are measures the reader can google, but nothing beats the metric of purchase: the Democrats now own both houses of congress after the election.

Fastforward to 2020.

“Now it’s two years later and the world has changed. A lot. And the question is 'was 2018 an anomaly or will young people show up in the midst of the pandemic, social uprisings and general chaos?'”, asked Beckett.

Good question. Can the young be moved enough to fight inertia at rest and oust Trump?


Did it work this time? The chart supports the claim that the campaign helped considerably. The orange line shows voter turnout in presidential elections, green line that of midterms.

Photo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Election Data Science Lab

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