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January 14, 2004

young people and Internet campaigns

We released a survey today that contains a lot of data about young people--their civic and political behavior and attitudes, and specifically their reaction to the ways political campaigns are using the Internet.

Campaigns are effectively using the Internet to reach young people, and will continue to do so. But is this because young people are computer-savvy and demand Internet based campaigns? Or is it because campaigns see advantages to a cheap medium that can reach and expand their base (more cost-effectively than broadcasts and mass mailings)? Overall, our data show that young people are not particularly favorable toward new, online campaigns techniques. They favor some approaches but oppose others.

Despite a general lack of enthusiasm for many online campaign techniques, however, there are some pools of young voters who do like the new technologies. For example, those college students and college graduates who are liberal and concerned about the War in Iraq are overwhelmingly aware of blogs and favor their use in campaigns by 68%-32%. This group also likes “banner ads”and weekly email updates, which are unpopular among youth in general.

The graph shows the percentage who like each campaign technique, minus those who don't like it or call it a "turn-off." We distinguish liberal college students who are concerned about the war (red bars) from other youth (blue).

These findings put the Dean phenomenon in context. The demographic group that most likes his campaign themes is also most favorable toward electronic campaigning. It is not at all clear that blogs and Meetup events would work nearly as well for other candidates. Given that strong partisans and well-educated youth are most enthusiastic about the new technologies in politics, the Internet looks like a means to organize core voters, not a way to expand the franchise

Posted by peterlevine at January 14, 2004 01:07 PM

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