After developing a reputation for lack of interest in political affairs, members of the 18-29 demographic are turning that perception on its head. In fact, a trend toward more participation in the electoral process began in 2004, and it seems to be gathering more steam this year.
The Washington Post quotes a survey from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement which demonstrated upticks for the age group in 2004, further growth in 2006 and which projects even greater participation in 2008.
A new website, VoteGopher, is attracting a crowd, providing information on candidates and their positions on a wide variety of key issues (unfortunately, media consolidation is not one of them).
Another study from Peanut Labs shows that 18-29s, independents as well as those identifying with one of the two major parties, are engaged, think the nation is pointed in the wrong direction, and are more interested in "honesty and trust" than they are in "experience" in a candidate. This is leading young Republicans toward the candidacy of Ron Paul (R-TX) and Barack Obama (D-IL).
One observer notes that it is no accident that these two candidates are deriving the most benefit from online campaign contributions. Much of that cash is coming from engaged, tech-savvy youngsters.
RBR/TVBR observation: When you think political advertising, you think of formats such as News-Talk and news and public affairs programming on the television side. The burgeoning interest of younger citizens would seem to open the category to music-formatted stations and shows targeted to this group. For broadcast stations that have never seriously considered tapping into the political category, this may be the time to make a play. Remember that if there is a constituency among this demo for Paul and Obama, then there are also candidates who don’t want to lose votes to either of them. Hey, Huck! Hey, Hillary! Wanna piece of our demo? Spots are going fast — better rock on over here immediately.