A new report (PDF) from Scarborough Research suggests that
the most social media savvy voters in the electorate, those between the ages of
18 and 24, make up a full 10% of all registered voters. And not only are these
young voters more plugged in to social media than their more senior
counterparts, they are more racially and ethnically diverse and cover a wider swath
of the political spectrum. In other words, they are exactly who candidates need
to be targeting in upcoming elections.
According to the study, "72% of Young Voters have used
social media via internet in the past 30 days or on their smartphones, as
compared with all registered voters, 45% of whom have used social media in the
same time period." This isn't a slight generation gap when it comes to social
media...it is the Grand Canyon. Millions of potential
voters, many of whom will be voting in their first ever Presidential election
in 2012, are active social networkers. In what will most likely be a tightly
contested election, the contest may in fact hinge on the voting patterns of
these young social media users.
Furthermore, of those aforementioned young voters an
impressive 41% are minorities. Compare that to over-24 voters, a mere 25% of who
describe themselves as something other than "non-Hispanic Whites." With the U.S.
population rapidly evolving into a "Majority Minority" profile, having a
diverse pool of voters in one place will be invaluable for candidates.
The entire report is a fascinating snapshot at the many
differences between the youth vote and more "seasoned" voters. Of course
perhaps the greatest challenge for candidates over the years has been
motivating these young voters to actually get out and, you know, vote! But now
that it is crystal clear where those voters can most easily be found, on social
media, the excuses for failing to mobilize them will soon be out the window.