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RU Talking To Me?

Project Description

RU Talking To Me? is a student research project conducted  by RU Voting that focuses on the extent to which candidates and the media are talking about issues that matter to young adults and how they are talking about these issues during the presidential primary season and the 2016 general election.

Student researchers observe and analyze Republican and Democratic debates, candidates’ websites and social media platforms, speeches, interviews, and media appearances, and news coverage of the candidates. Analysis includes documenting the number of references to young adults and/or issues directly related to young adults & the manner in which candidates discuss these issues including perspective, tone, and substance.

Research Highlights Fall 2015
Research Highlights Spring 2016

Research Highlights – Fall 2015

Over the course of the Fall 2015 semester, student researchers closely followed the Republican and Democratic primary debates (a total of 6 debates that took place between August 6 and November 14) & came to the following conclusions:

  • The total number of moderator questions asked at the debates = 269
    • Total Number of Republican Moderator Questions = 170
    • Total Number of Republican Moderator Questions Relating to Young Adults = 3
    • Total Number of Democratic Moderator Questions = 99
    • Total Number of Democratic Moderator Questions Relating to Young Adults = 6
    • Total Number of Moderator Questions Relating to Young Adults = 9
  • The total number of candidate responses or comments that addressed young adults = 38
    • Total Number of Republican Responses Related to Young Adults = 18 (47%)
    • Total Number of Democratic Responses Related to Young Adults = 28 (74%)


“We have young Americans who owe thousands of dollars in student loans for a degree that doesn’t lead to a job.” (Marco Rubio, 11-10-15)

“I disagree with free college for everybody…I think it ought to be a compact, families contribute, kids contribute, and together, we want to make it possible for our new generation of young people to refinance their debt and not come out with debt in the future.” (Hillary Clinton, 9-14-15)

“We’re giving young people and working people hope that real change can take place in America. That’s what the political revolution is about.” (Bernie Sanders, 11-14-15)

‘A young student stood up and said, “Can I still be idealistic?” I said absolutely, you can still change the world. And, you know the old inscription, if you’ve saved one life, you’ve changed the world. Folks, we a have a problem with the leadership in Washington, but I’ll tell you another problem. We need to rebuild our families.” (John Kasich, 10-28-15)


Student researchers also presented their data visually through word clouds using transcripts from the Republican and Democratic debates to determine how prominently young adults figured in the conversation.

Republican Primary Debates 
Combined Republican Primary Debates Wordle
Democratic Primary Debates 
Combined Democratic Primary Debates Wordle
Combined Democratic and Republican Debates
Combined Democratic and Republican Primary Debates Wordle


Research Spring 2016

Tweet Of The Week



Presidential Hopefuls Reaching out to young adults . . .

From the Marco Rubio Campaign selling bright blue t-shirts with Millennial slang to Bernie Sanders singing “This Land is Your Land” with popular rock group Vampire Weekend, the presidential candidates have been doing their best to appeal to young voters. Click the pictures to learn more!


Political Satire of the Presidential Candidates


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