When you think about America, things like baseball, apple pie and the Fourth of July spring to mind. So does freedom. They are aspects of American life and the character of our nation. These are things that define us and bind us together.
More and more, NASCAR is also becoming an important component of the American landscape. With a growing fan base in the tens of millions, NASCAR enthusiasts have grown from humble beginnings to make their sport the second most popular in the nation based on attendance and viewership.
Anyone who has been to a race can tell you there is a definite NASCAR culture. It goes beyond the track and beyond the sport.
NASCAR fans are loyal. They’re proud American flag wavers – and yes, they represent a major segment of the voting population.
It is probably not surprising that race fans skew to the right of the political spectrum and therein lies the opportunity to drive real fiscal reform at all levels of government - if that power is leveraged to its full potential.
Nearly 20% of self-identified NASCAR fans are not registered to vote.
That’s much better than the American population at large but getting more more fans to register to vote can also have a profound impact on the election this year in favor of fiscal conservatives.
A 2011 Scarborough Research survey of more than 400,000 fans who stated they were “very interested” in the sport underscored the significant potential for impact on the political landscape and highlighted a definite opportunity.
Race fans vote in larger numbers than almost any other demographic group, but nearly 30% vote either only sometimes or never in a presidential election. Only around half say they always vote in state or local elections.
In the 2012 campaign, particularly in swing states like North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa, increasing turnout among NASCAR fans even by a couple of percentage points can tip elections.
By supporting candidates who favor the limited government, and less spending that will help protect our freedom, NASCAR fans can have a significant impact on the elections.
Our national debt is reaching more than $15 trillion this year and with a budget deficit at equally historic levels, the very fabric of our nation is threatened. Reform is needed to protect Americans from the triple threat of debt, spending and taxation.
NASCAR Nation can help put Americans back in the drivers’ seat.
They have the power to be perhaps one of the most powerful forces in American politics and tip the scales towards reforms that will limit government and keep America free. To date their full potential has not yet been realized.
While everyone is captivated by the 2012 presidential campaign, there is another message for NASCAR fans and all Americans.
People need to be engaged this year in the race for the White House, but they also need to focus on local contests.
What happens at the state and local level can have just as, if not a greater, impact on our daily lives as what goes on in Washington.
Unfortunately, even some civically-minded groups are keeping silent on that fact.
NASCAR is a large community approaching 75 million, but it is a tightly-knit community nonetheless. As such, it is the perfect group to rally around certain quintessentially American concepts like free markets, less government regulation, less spending and lower taxation.
That will provide greater freedom for our families and businesses. Locally-focused approaches to authentic government reform are critical to protecting our freedom and NASCAR fans have a unique opportunity to lead that charge in towns and cities all across the country.
At American Majority, we are starting at the track. We just launched an unprecedented program to engage NASCAR voters at a grassroots level with our Pledge to Vote program. With a very simple message of “Pledge to vote to keep America free,” American Majority is teaming up with MacDonald Motorsports to sponsor Nationwide Series car #81.
The American Majority Racing-Keep America Free race car will be seen by millions of Americans this year. We will be where the rubber meets the road, on the ground at the races, reaching out to register, educate and engage voters of all political stripes.
This year, NASCAR fans, like all Americans aren’t just watching a race.
They’re in the middle of a very real one to determine the future of this great nation. It’s the race to keep America free. Our Founders, if their lives and writings were compressed into three simple words, they would be personified by “Keep America free.”
This current contest between freedom and statism is one that, if freedom wins, can reverse the dangerous trends we’ve watched unfold for decades. These trends have driven businesses from our shores and governments to near collapse.
In 2012, NASCAR fans can lead the pack. They can help win the race to keep America free for all of us.
Ned Ryun is the President and CEO of American Majority Action, a national grassroots organization. Learn more at AmericanMajorityAction.org.