Whilst I start writing this, I should point out that it’s currently 7:46am. (Probably not when I eventually post it, however) Of course, like every other silly British person who had important things to do the next morning, I stayed up all night watching the results of the US Election unfold. So I have had no sleep and I’m writing this merely on some coffee and the post-election buzz I’m still experiencing.
Prior to the results or maybe even one or two days leading up to the day of voting, there was a real buzz on the internet about the election. As a British person, it felt strange seeing so many fellow Brit’s become so passionate about who they wanted to become the next President. I was seeing tweet after tweet, as well as blog posts of like minded British people posting their support for Barack Obama; and various ones urging everyone in the states to go out and vote. I myself have been a lot more knowledgeable and aware of this years campaign, more so than any other election since I’ve existed. I’ve done my research on both Obama and Romney and I’ve formed valid opinions on both candidates that could be well supported. Although, I am by no means claiming to be an expert in politics now.
According to the Huffington Post this morning, the percentage for youth turnout at this years election was up one percentage point from the 2008 elections. Moreover, Voters from the ages of 18-29 represented 19% of Tuesday’s elections, with 60% voting for Barack Obama and 36% voting for Mitt Romney. Although we won’t find out whether the turn out for young voters increased or decreased until much later on, I believe we will find a good increase.
Between 2008 and 2012, social networking has expanded to whole new levels. In 2008, we had Myspace and whilst it was a massive sensation, people were more about the music and socializing whilst using the website rather than for actual information.
However since then, we’ve had the up rise of sites such as Twitter and Tumblr. I feel they have played a vital part in getting youths to vote. Everyday, users on twitter who follow their favourite celebrities, have been seeing online campaigns to get US citizens out and voting. It seemed that this year, now more than ever, it was crucial to ensure people got out and voted.
Unlike any other campaign, this is the first year the internet has had a real substantial effect in influencing voter turn out. We haven’t had access to seeing regularly updated insights from public figures like now, so everyone was more likely to be influenced to head out.
Similarly, there’s Tumblr. I’m sure WordPress users know what Tumblr is, but for those who don’t; Tumblr is a Blogging site much like this but with a huge user network of teenagers and young adults, whose interface provides an easy and efficient way to post pictures, music, and text onto a dashboard where followers can see and reblog or respond and interact. Despite being a site that is particularly popular for reblogging ‘funny’ posts, it is also an extremely useful tool for spreading information. Admittedly, Mitt Romney himself hasn’t been a popular candidate on the site. Blogs such as this and this have become hugely popular and get off on mocking the Governor. But aside from mocking people, Tumblr has opened up and made information extremely more accessible to young adults than it would have been before. I myself, have seen hundreds of detailed posts exposing and detailing both Mitt Romney’s and Barack Obama’s policies. Barack Obama is somewhat of an icon on the site and if the election was based on Tumblr users, Barack Obama would win by a mile.
The point that I am making here is that information about these candidates have become so much more accessible now through sites like Tumblr and Twitter. Social networking seems to be helping young people to make more informed decisions about who they should vote for, and is giving them the actual confidence to go out and vote. Of course, this is not to say these social networking sites are informing and encouraging just young people. News reports are saying that in some states, turnouts have been at an all time high.
I think there are other contributing factors to the good turn out at the elections, but I certainly believe social networking has made a good impact. And it’s not just the American’s who are being informed, the whole world is. It’s been clear since the run up to voting day that the British have been backing Obama. All over Twitter and Tumblr, I have seen messages of disgust about Mitt Romney by British people and messages urging the people across the pond to vote Obama.
With a combination of relentless campaigning by celebrities and regular tweeters, we all saw the message about how important it was to vote. Through information I’ve seen on the internet, I have personally learnt a lot. I learnt that America NEEDED to vote for Obama desperately, lest they go back a few hundred years and so did millions of others in America, thank god. I don’t think I would have gained a lot of the information I know now if it wasn’t for social networks like I have mentioned, I am grateful for that. What I am also grateful for, is being able to talk about things like the US Election with other people my age and younger.