Politicians Turn to Web to Attract Young Voters from WLNS is a video report on a new trend in the 2006 Michigan elections: candidates turning to youth networking sites like Facebook to connect with young voters. Candidates with Facebook profiles include Jennifer Granholm and Dick DeVos, Debbie Stabenow and Mike Bouchard. The video includes interviews with college students like Jon Erickson about their thoughts: “I think it was kind of useful, because we waste a lot of time on Facebook to have some of it be constructive as far as looking at the election.”
Young voters — a wild card in 2006 U.S. elections at Young Voter Strategies from Reuters looks at the same trend and says nationwide survey released this month showed young Americans prefer Democrats to Republicans by a 21-point margin, up from 19% in April. Ed Goeas, a Republican pollster who analyzed the survey taken by the nonpartisan Young Voter Strategies said if young voters turn out in November in the same numbers as in the 2002 mid-term elections, they could give Democrats a 1.8 percentage point advantage, enough to sway any of several razor-tight races this year.
Finally, just because, here’s the campaign web site (on MySpace) of Lauren Spencer, a 19 year-old candidate for the MSU Board of Trustees. I found it at this very comprehensive page listing Michigan candidate web sites.
Update @ 3:45 PM: I was just emailed a link to Microtargeting with MySpace from Direct Democracy that says youth-heavy online hangout MySpace.com is launching a voter-registration drive to engage its members in civics and links in turn to a Washington Post article about microtargeting:
There is no sexier topic in politics these days than “microtargeting.” That’s the new science (some say dark art) by which candidates use the latest data-mining technology to vacuum every last scrap of information about voters, then churn out custom-tailored messages designed to herd their supporters to the polls.
All of these articles say (to me) that our political process is becoming an ever-more specific science that is less about the policies of candidates and more about finding voters who will support the policies of candidates.