Young voters go online to find other young voters

6:27 AM, Nov 2, 2006   |    comments
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It’s called the “You-Tube” effect. Politicians are posting video clips on the Internet site You Tube, and the site is so popular that media consultants are suggesting videos posted there can pack as much punch as a traditional :30 spot. But it’s not just politicians using the Internet. You Tube and other sites have caught fire with young voters who are trying to get their peers to vote. A group called standupnow.mn, which is sponsored by the DFL party, is using You Tube to distribute a TV ad urging young voters to vote for Mark Ritchie for secretary of state. The ad will air once on TV – on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – and then it will live in cyberspace. Minnesota’s College Republicans also are posting homemade ads on You Tube, hoping other young conservatives will send them to friends. Nora Paul, who runs the Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota, says if you want to get to young voters, it make sense to be where they are. “Certainly it's where a lot of younger people are hanging out,” Paul said. “(Politics involves) everything from putting signs on your front yard to putting videos on You Tube, if you're wanting to do a really comprehensive campaign and message strategy.” Standupnow.mn also encouraged Democratic candidates to post profiles on the social networking site, Facebook.com. They claim 9,000 potential young voters have learned about candidates that way. College republicans use the same Web sites and say it turns web surfers into tangible supporters. “For example, when the governor was debating Mike Hatch at the U of M, we set up an event on Facebook, and we were able to turn out 100 college Republicans to be outside, cheering for the governor,” said Tyler Sunderman, chairman of the Minnesota College Republicans. This is grassroots organizing in the Internet Age. Alex Cutler, of standup.mn, said, “It's a very disarming thing when we say, ‘Hey man, you wanna learn more about Mike Hatch or Amy Klobuchar or Mark Ritchie?’ All you have to do is Facebook them.” If you do actually “Facebook” people like Mike Hatch and Tim Pawlenty, you’ll read comments like, “Beat that fool!” on Hatch’s page, or “T-Paw rocks!” on Pawlenty’s page. It may not be classic political discourse. But these Facebookers could decide the election. At 69 percent, Minnesota has a higher turnout percentage, for voters under 25, than any other state in the nation. By Scott Goldberg, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2006 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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