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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: Young voters

You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.

November 6, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Flash poll: what impact does social media have on the millennial generation?

Seattle — As I filled out my voter’s ballot for the 2012 presidential election, I couldn’t help but think of two words: Gangnam Style.

Ranked number two on the Billboard Hot 100 charts is the new hit from South Korean rapper, PSY. The viral YouTube video, “Gangnam Style,” has people dancing all over the globe, including a parody of presidential candidate, Mitt Romney:

With nearly 7 million views on YouTube, “Gangnam Style” has more views than the total amount of likes on the vice presidential candidates’  Facebook pages, combined (for both Joe Biden and Paul Ryan).


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: flash poll, social media, Young voters

November 2, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Seattle youth defy national voter apathy trends

Nationwide, young voters are less likely to vote this year than in 2008. But in Seattle, they’re more engaged than ever before.

More than 300 young Seattleites listen to a motivation speech by State Senator Ed Murray (D-Seattle) before canvassing to get out the vote at Washington Bus’s Trick-or-Vote event last Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Toby Crittenden / UW Election Eye)

SEATTLE — What do a skeleton, Rosie the Riveter and a walking cupcake all have in common?

They were among 400 creatively-costumed young activists trick-or-treating for votes and marriage equality in Seattle over Halloween weekend.

Trick or Vote, an annual “Get Out the Vote” canvassing event put on by Seattle-based non-profit Washington Bus, saw an unprecedented number of dedicated young people taking to the streets this year in their spookiest (or quirkiest) attire — reminding people to turn in their ballots before election day next week and to support Referendum 74.

It was the biggest turnout at an event in Washington Bus history. This is in keeping with an increasing number of young Seattleites taking politics into their own hands this year — especially when it comes to local and state issues — but this runs counter to national trends of youth-voter disengagement.

Washington Bus, unique in its youth-focused approach to political engagement, doubled its number of regular participants in just the past year. Most of these volunteers are under 25 years old.


According to Toby Crittenden, Washington Bus’ executive director, there are now more than 5,000 young people who canvas and phone bank with the Bus on a regular basis, which is ten times more than when it started up in 2007 (and yes, this includes 2008’s “Obamamania“).


Comments | More in Local, State | Topics: apathy, engagement, Young voters

May 16, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Access and education are key to young voter engagement

How do you capture that elusive “youth vote”? In the first presidential election since Barack Obama’s campaign showed it was possible to effectively leverage young voter engagement, the question still remains of how to keep 18-29 year olds engaged in the political process.

(Graphic by Corey Murata/UW Election Eye)

SEATTLE — “Politics,” Alex Miller says, “is inherently uncool.”

As we sit in the urban loft headquarters of the Washington Bus, a youth-driven political advocacy organization, it sure seems like they’ve found something cool about the creaky old voting process. Maybe it’s the “Vote Bot” Robot or the foosball table.

But the Bus’s Communications Director is serious.

“It just can’t be cool,” he reiterates. “And that’s fine — it’s still super valuable. What you can do is find things that are cool and meaningful to young people, and you can figure out what’s political about them.”

The question that seems to arise every presidential election year — how do you get out the youth vote? — is once again in the local and national conversation in 2012. While the 2008 Presidential season saw a surge in youth participation as a result of the Obama campaign’s outreach and leverage of social media to reach younger voters, a recent poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics showed that only 49% of Americans age 18-29 will “definitely” vote in November. Only 22% of U.S. college students self-identify as politically active.

The majority of young voters are like Curtis Rusch, a freshman at the University of Washington. He registered to vote soon after his 18th birthday, eager for the opportunity to vote in the 2012 presidential election. But off-year elections and smaller races or initiatives are not on his radar, or that of his friends.

“I just feel like it doesn’t make that much of a difference,” he says. “Some of those issues seem really small to us since they’re not affecting us every day, so it doesn’t pique our interest as much.”

Alan Charnley, a 26-year-old from the 32nd district, sees that tension often in the students at Shoreline Community College that he approaches, clipboard in hand, to strike up conversation — and eventually ask them if they’re registered to vote.

The one-time summer camp counselor admits he’ll Facebook sneak-attack his former campers when they turn 18: “I’ll write, ‘Congratulations, Happy Birthday! Now go register to vote’.”

Here in Washington State, 18-24 year olds made up 12.64% of the population in 2010, but made up only 9% of total registered voters (see graphic).

So what is the trick to capturing that elusive youth vote?


Comments | More in State | Topics: "Washington Bus", Washington, Young voters

May 4, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Hooking the youth vote: does being cool matter?

As presidential campaigns prepare for November, attracting young voters is a priority. Is being a “cool” candidate the key to attracting this stereotypically apathetic crowd?

SEATTLE — Last week, as Lindsey Meeks reported here on UW Election Eye, the Obama campaign made it clear that reaching young voters is playing as significant a role in the 2012 campaign as it was in 2008. During a two-day college campus tour, President Barack Obama appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to “slow jam” the news. The topic was the potential interest rate increase for federal student loans. On the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, along with Fallon and The Roots, President Obama made it clear that he disagreed with the increase when he said, “Now is not the time to make school more expensive.”

The video has made the rounds on social networks; on Late Night’s Facebook page alone, it has been shared 1,961 times with 5,787 “likes.” On the show’s YouTube channel, the slow jam has over 5 million views. The campaign’s own YouTube garners plenty of views as well, with one recent video (“The Road We’ve Traveled”) surpassing the 2 million point.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Jimmy Fallon

April 15, 2012 at 7:55 AM

Why do you vote?

Editors note:  A previous version of this story contained an additional image at the top.  That image has been removed to avoid a potential dispute over photo permissions.

Why do you vote? It’s a simple question, yet not always easy to answer.

TACOMA — Personally, it took me a while to offer anything remotely eloquent or thoughtful (and even that’s debatable) to the question at the top of this post.

I vote because I know it’s an important action to take as an engaged and active citizen. I vote because I hope that as a member of a participatory democratic process my voice can and will be heard. But ultimately, I vote because many people my age do not. By taking action I hope to make my generation become more engaged in our political system.


Comments | More in State | Topics: College Civics Week, Demographics, Election 2012

February 25, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Gregoire calls Obama "inspiration" for same-sex marriage law, but will it be enough to motivate young voters?

Then-Sen. Barack Obama and Governor Christine Gregoire at a 2008 campaign rally at Key Arena (photo by Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times).

Governor Christine Gregoire hailed President Obama on Friday as the “inspiration” for Washington state’s passage of a same-sex marriage law. It was a declaration that may surprise some.

If her view is shared by the president’s fabled young supporters, same-sex marriage is more likely to survive the potential ballot referendum in the fall elections.

Gregoire, according to Politico, praised Obama after he met with Democratic Party governors at the White House. The president, notably, does not support same-sex marriage laws, though he has often said his views are “evolving” on the matter.

But Gregoire said Obama had done plenty.

“I think we probably have succeeded as much as we have because of his leadership,” she told Politico. “He’s used the bully pulpit. He’s been the inspiration that allowed the state of Washington [to] recognize that we need to have equality.

“It’s because of what he’s been able to do that I actually think in large part we were able to achieve what we did. So I don’t criticize. To the contrary, I thank the president for his leadership on GLBT issues.”

Change is certainly underway.


Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, Christine Gregoire, Demographics