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CIRCLE » Five Takeaways on Social Media and the Youth Vote in 2018

In line with our estimates, youth political engagement in the 2018 midterm elections was amongst the highest in current many years. An estimated 31% turned out to vote, in comparison with 21% in 2014. As well as, beyond the ballot box, our pre-election survey of youth means that youth activism is on the rise, with the proportion of youth who’ve participated in a protest tripling in simply the last two years. Our youth poll also revealed that partaking in activism using social media and other online instruments translated to offline activism, an necessary finding provided that social media use is almost ubiquitous amongst youth: virtually 90% of young individuals aged 18-29 use no less than one social media website.

On this submit, we analyze how young individuals use social media platforms and the distinctive influence they have had on youth civic and political engagement—notably in the 2018 midterm cycle. While social media corporations have supported voter registration and engagement in the previous, this yr lots of them expanded their efforts to offer correct information about voting and the election in an accessible method, and to aim to encourage young individuals to vote. As an example, Instagram ran a campaign to encourage customers to register to vote before the midterm elections. Snapchat ran an identical campaign and reminded customers to vote on Election Day—along with providing a map to assist customers get to their polling place. These digital initiatives are a beneficial contribution to the collective work of voter schooling that different groups do both on-line and in individual, because they will present info easily and at scale even when a potential voter isn’t actively in search of election-related info or is just not related to a corporation that would offer it.

Listed here are five takeaways on the position social media is enjoying in youth political engagement:

  1. Social media platforms have extraordinary attain: Forty-seven %—or roughly 14 million—18 to 24-year-olds heard about the 2018 elections from at the least certainly one of the 4 mostly used social media platforms: Fb, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. This large attain is further amplified by the undeniable fact that, by their very nature, social media platforms permit users to attach and talk with their peers. In other words, social media can probably integrate voting and election info into individuals’s social lives, thereby normalizing electoral participation and selling a tradition of political engagement. For example, Fb exhibits users profile footage of their associates who have already voted together with an “I Voted” button that, when clicked, shares this info with different associates. Voting, then, becomes social—an expertise younger individuals can use to encourage others to do the similar.
  2. Social media platforms are reaching youth not engaged by candidates and campaigns: Twenty-seven % of the youth (ages 18-24) in our survey heard or read about the election on social media platforms but were not reached by conventional outreach groups corresponding to political parties and campaigns. Thus, social media do not merely duplicate “traditional” voter schooling and outreach work driven by campaigns and candidates, which is important but typically relies on registered voter lists which will omit youth who haven’t beforehand participated. As an alternative, social media platforms that share registration and voting info could also be serving as an important complement, reaching youth that different efforts don’t. Importantly, social media have been a very essential source of data for first-time voters, who, in accordance with the Exit Polls, made up 68% of the 18 to 29-year-olds who truly voted in the 2018 midterms. In our pre-election ballot, first-time voters have been far much less more likely to be reached by conventional means (43%, vs. 23% for many who had voted previously), and first-time voters have been extra more likely to encounter election-related info on social media (29%) than from candidates’ campaigns and political events (23%). Equally, social media played a slightly extra essential position for younger individuals dwelling outdoors of metro areas, the place conventional outreach groups might not attain them as simply.
  3. Social media attain a broad vary of youth: General, the young people who heard about the election on social media (from right here on, we’ll name them the “Social Media Group”) have been more more likely to have gone to school (63% in the Social Media Group, 49% amongst the rest of youth in our survey), and extra more likely to determine as Democrats (47%) than the general youth population (35%). Greater than half of the Social Media Group (55%) reported voting in 2016, in comparison with 39% among the other youth in our poll. Youth in the Social Media Group also intently matches the general racial and ethnic makeup of this age group, but have been barely extra more likely to be feminine (55%).


  4. Youth who get election info are more likely to vote: Research persistently exhibits that one among the greatest strategy to promote youth voting is to succeed in out to younger individuals and personally ask them to vote. Though online contact might not initially seem to suit that conventional mould of “personal” outreach, our analysis finds that social media are just as efficient in mobilizing youth. Based on our survey,  young individuals who heard about the election on a minimum of one in every of the top-four social media platforms have been more more likely to say they meant to vote. As the graph under exhibits, solely 22% of youth who neither heard about the election on social media nor by means of traditional outreach efforts stated they have been “extremely likely” to vote, whereas 54% of those who heard about the election both online and offline stated the similar. And, whether or not or not additionally they acquired conventional outreach, hearing about elections on social media was associated with a big improve in probability to vote.


  5. Social media alone do not create “civic attitudes”—but in all probability assist cement them: Our findings do not recommend that social media platforms are singularly answerable for young individuals creating the inclinations and mindset that lead to civic and political engagement. It’s much more possible that younger people who already have an curiosity in elections and/or political issues seek election info on social media, and use these platforms to deepen their engagement by connecting with peers, organizations, and candidates. Subsequently, social media can probably help move young individuals from “intent” to “action” by helping them really feel extra assured that they have accurate information about how and where to vote, and that they have educated themselves further on candidates and points. This is necessary, as one other  current survey we carried out discovered that insecurity in their information or preparedness is usually a factor that keeps young individuals from voting.
    Certainly, our findings help the idea that politically younger individuals are utilizing social media to hook up with organizations, causes, and campaigns. In comparison with those that didn’t hear about elections on these platforms, those that did usually tend to take part in other types of online political engagement. As an example, 35% comply with candidates or campaigns online (in comparison with 12% amongst those who didn’t hear about elections on social media), and 57% have signed a petition—which now happens virtually solely online (in comparison with 39% amongst others). They are also extra more likely to be engaged in at the least one type of offline activism (31% vs. 14%), and those who are engaged in offline activism have been more more likely to say they meant to vote.

What’s Next

Our analysis clearly exhibits that social media platforms reached a really giant phase of younger individuals, lots of whom have been potential first-time voters, and that youth benefited from listening to about the election on their social media feeds. It’s doubtless that intentional efforts by social media corporations to promote non-partisan voter engagement in 2018 possible had a constructive impact on youth voter turnout, particularly for these youth who lacked election info and outreach from different sources.  Our research has discovered that even if they need to vote, younger individuals typically lack very primary information about how and the place to do so. A few of the largest social media platforms seem to have understood and embraced this challenge, using research-based information about key info gaps and voter mobilization methods to offer  info to potential voters in a timely and personalised method (i.e., deadlines based mostly on where voters reside, or directions to a voter’s polling place). These efforts ought to continue in order that social media play an more and more constructive position in promoting voter engagement for users of all political inclinations, particularly in places where traditional teams might not reach young voters.

In addition, as a result of reliance on social media info is particularly notable amongst first-time voters, these platforms have the potential to play an necessary position in the “civic socialization” of young individuals who have never voted or signed up to be part of political groups. Nevertheless, a dependence on social media platforms for election info also highlights present gaps in civic schooling and in the infrastructure for youth voter engagement. Precisely because civic schooling is usually lacking, there is a danger of younger people who are turning to social media as main sources of civic information being exposed to political misinformation and disinformation, which many of these platforms are still struggling to combat, and  which youth they could be ill-prepared to recognize and filter out. It is important that we bolster civic schooling, especially because it relates to media literacy, so that younger individuals can get hold of the expertise necessary to to critically consider info, on-line and offline, and effectively use social media platforms as tools to bolster their civic participation.

This entry was posted
on Thursday, November 15th, 2018 at 6:09 pm and is filed underneath 2018 Election, CIRCLE Blog, Group Membership and Social Networks, News & Leisure Media, Youth Voting/Political Participation.
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