A visit to the homepage for RocktheVote prominently displays news that young voters are”surging” at the polls. From there you can find a link to a November article in the Orange, the paper at Syracuse University, that presented the findings from a recent report saying today’s college students, or “millennials“, prefer community service over politics.
The report found that while more young people are voting, some see it as a symbolic act rather than a meaningful way to create change.
Reports of corruption, war, terrorism and widening economic gaps are making today’s generation more thoughtful and desirous for real social improvement, but they seem to prefer taking action themselves than to rely on a politician to get the job done.
USA Today reported in its defining article on millennials that “A study of more than 260,000 college freshmen released this year by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found that 66.3% of freshmen surveyed last fall said it is “essential or very important” to help others, the highest percentage to say so in 25 years.” It went on to confirm that this generation volunteers more, but believes less in voting.
However, some “generation next”-ers exchanged email messages online that were incredibly insightful on current politics. About a Rolling Stone Cover preceding this past November election, Annika Carlson wrote “you know there’s something big percolating in the minds of Americans. People want change — and what’s more, they’re planning to make it happen on Nov. 7 by voting for Democrats.” She cites a failed “stay the course”plan in Iraq and unbelievable scandals by Republicans as catalysts for young voters to take action at the polls. She thinks that will make a difference.
“Democrats…are providing innovative solutions to the problems of regular people in areas such as health care, economic growth and education. It’s time for a change, and Democrats are standing out as the right choice for America,” she said.
John Della Volpe argues that the more millennials get involved in anything, the more they’ll participate in politics. His site SocialSphere reports that he seems to be right, seeing an increase in young voters participating in the 2004 election and “in 2006 as more votes were cast by people under 30 than by voters over 65.”
The blog post goes on to say most of the current presidential candidates are mishandling their approach, if they even have one, to winning favor with young students. So who has their favor at the moment?
CBS News takes it for granted that millennials favor Obama. In an article more about Obama’s appeal to generation Xers, a quick glance at the youngest voting population doesn’t seem to give them much credit for thinking about politics, but rather that they are seen as a group to market to.
“Obama’s boomer campaign managers prefer to sell him to the Millennials as a cool brand name with its very own catchy slogan, “Generation Obama,” that they can embrace. …It may be one reason X-ers have not overwhelmingly embraced his candidacy.is way out ahead in polls among all age categories except the Millennials, who favor Obama.”
It may be a good idea to keep a closer eye on this segment of the voting public. Just like older generations tend to under estimate the power of the trends this group is savvy to, they may not be aware that millennials are reading, watching, capturing, blogging, posting and sharing their thoughts about politics at unheard of speed.