Robert D. Mather, Ph.D.

The Conservative Social Psychology Blog
Election 2020 and Lessons from 2015

Prior to the historic 2016 U.S. Presidential election, Kristen Soltis Anderson published The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials Are Leading America (And How Republicans Can Keep Up). The author of the book was a young, seasoned public opinion pollster and data analytics guru. I heard her speak at the Council of Graduate Schools in December of 2017 and met her briefly. Since that time she now appears regularly on Fox News and provides insightful political commentary.

The Selfie Vote is a data-based guide to the behaviors and preferences of millenials (those born in the 1980’s and 1990’s) as of 2015. It compared that generation to previous generations and noted the strategic deficiencies of the Republicans in the 2012 election, where the Democrats had a cutting edge analytics strategy and platform to match it. The book preceded the 2016 election, and it was obvious that the 2016 election had Republican infrastructure and strategies that had been responsive to those prior deficiencies. For example, President Trump’s team masterfully used social media in the campaign. 

The issues facing millenials at that time were many, and they had particularly important views and behaviors with regard to maternity leave, starting a company, student loan debt, morality and religion, sex, drugs, and urbanization. The Selfie Vote covered data on their opinions towards all of these and how it fit with other generations and what Republicans needed to change in their platform to be successful. For instance, millenials of both parties trend towards being accepting of gay marriage and find it to be a non-issue for them, unlike many voters in the early 2000’s. However, because it is a non-issue for so many of the millenials, it becomes an issue if someone opposes it and actually washes out all other issues. Opposing gay marriage turns most millenials into one-issue voters who will not support that candidate even if the candidate supports all of the other issues the voter supports. But supporting gay marriage doesn’t help candidates appeal to most millenials, because supporting gay marriage is a given to most millenials. The viability of the GOP will be determined by how this issue is handled. With religion declining in the United States, I argue that the viability of churches will also be determined by their stance on the issue of gay marriage. 

Just as it was interesting to see how many of her strategies were implemented in 2016, it is also interesting to see how Election 2020 plays out in the context of her predictions and proposed strategies. Millenials are now 5 years older than when the book was written, so they face slightly different issues and no doubt have slightly different perspectives. Still, there is no reason to believe that millenials have fundamentally changed since 2015.  

If you get a chance, take a look at The Selfie Vote and keep an eye on the upcoming election. 

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