February 9, 2007
Facebook and politics
(In Cambridge, MA) Students don't give a lot of money to political candidates; they don't have enough to give. In 2004, according to the American National Election Study, just 1.3% of young people (ages 18-25) said they had given money to any political candidate. In contrast, 10.1% of people over the age of 25 had made financial contributions.
However, the independent group Students for Obama (which started on FaceBook and now has 50,000 members) has figured out a way to have an impact. They write, "We understand that money is not exactly something we all have a lot of to spare; that's why we put together a list of some of the things you can skip or pass on once--and donate the amount you saved. Next time you are going to spend money on one of these items, think of instead helping break the stereotype that students do not donate and do not care about the political process." They suggest, for example, that you give up your next Starbucks Caramel Macchiato and give the $3.21 to Obama. It will be interesting to see whether this practice spreads as the '08 campaign unfolds.
[Update: see Jose Antonio Vargas' good article in the Washington Post, which cites our work. He says that the Obama Facebook site now has 279,000 members and rising.]