Social media shows Democrats 'on track' for 2012 student support

Summary:The vast majority of the Generation Y voted in Obama in 2008 as the first 'Facebook president'. And, it's looking likely he'll succeed again.

President Barack Obama may well scoop a 2012 electoral victory with the help from college student support, social media analysis suggests.

A poll carried out by Harvard University found the president's approval rating has risen to 55%, six per cent in just over as many months.

Along with this, it found that 80% of all 18-29 year olds, and with 90% of all students on a four-year degree course, had access to a Facebook account.

The survey suggests a massive shift away from the traditional soapbox-like hustings of face-to-face politics, towards indirect mass communications through social networks.

But ironically enough, it is the traditional values of the voter that are falling foul of the social revolution.

Along with the increased support for Obama and the Democrats, the Republican Party is still failing to grasp the younger vote, whereby in 2008 where the vast majority of younger voters voted Democrat.

And I have a theory as to why.

In college, the rules of political engagement have changed. No longer is there the 'left' and the 'right'. One of the key features to today's youth, the Generation Y, is this bridged gap to form a 'liberal conservative' alliance.

Then again, to say such words in Britain during this time of austerity measures and public cutbacks could cause a riot in your back yard.

In short, the conservative student today takes on more liberal values unseen by the older Baby Boomer generation.

A conservative upbringing does not automatically denote traditionality, opting for traditional marriage values, a pro-life persuasion and an anti-socialism attitude. In my experience, it is clear that college and university students who would vote for the center-right are progressively becoming more liberal in their views, especially towards issues of diversity where they face same-sex relations and issues of pro-choice decisions.

According to FOX, only 32% of the younger demographic voted for McCain, with 66% voting for Obama and the Democrats.

This university 'tertiary' socialisation process breaks away from the primary and secondary familial socialisation, where values and opinions learned from family and close friends are diversified and challenged in the highly charged atmosphere of college and university.

Traditionally, the coasts of the United States tend to vote Democrat, with the 'middle bit' voting predominantly in favour of the Republicans.

But considering so much of mid-rural America is without broadband access, focusing vast quantities of social media in their direction is going to be a failed art form.

I could, of course, write an entire dissertation on this topic, but truthfully only time will tell. Elections are mathematically an algorithmic mess of numbers, probability and on the most part - spin.

But one thing is for sure, is that the Republican Party and other minority parties need to focus their efforts on a hard-line stance to liberal values, if they wish to gain the younger vote.

Times have changed, and today's youth are the most liberal yet - and disillusioned.

Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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