Social media making its mark on young voters

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UntitledBy Alexandra Donlin
MI First Election

With social media a new and popular way to advertise, the presidential campaigns have completely shifted how they attract voters, especially when trying to get young people to vote.

This is evident with Bernie Sanders, for whom 84 percent of his voters in the Iowa caucus were under 30. If you take a look at his Twitter feed, he regularly Tweets out what his beliefs are, with young people retweeting and liking them.

“I don’t really pay too much attention to the specific social media campaigns of presidential candidates, but Bernie Sanders has an unbelievable following, especially of young people,” first-time voter Danielle Jacosalem said. “I follow his Twitter account and I have never seen this amount of young voters so enthusiastic to retweet his views.”

Because young people dominate social media, it’s important for presidential candidates to approach them that way.

“Bernie Sanders is who I’m seeing most on social media,” Maria Perez, 23, said. “There is nothing but positive things about him. Everyone else is made fun of.”

Hillary Clinton, the other Democratic candidate, is also fairly active on Twitter. Her feed mainly showcases people canvassing for her or where she is speaking.

Among Republicans, Donald Trump stays active on Twitter, but he mainly picks apart his opponents. He also regularly connects with supporters.

All candidates that are still running, consistently update three forms of social media – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Generally, their teams update everything for them, but more often than not you can see the candidates posting as well.

“All of the candidates have been very successful on social media,” said Matthew King, 20. “I’m not a fan of Trump, but he’s definitely been successful. Hillary is on Twitter a lot, and I’ve noticed Bernie also on Twitter and YouTube.”

King said he doesn’t rely on social media for politics but thinks it will “most definitely” stay popular for young people to be informed in the future.

Sometimes social media campaigns can be successful but not necessarily in a positive way.

Keeli James, who won’t be voting this year, said, “I don’t like Trump, but he has had a successful social media campaign since a lot of people are hating on him.”

India Young, who will be voting for the very first time this year, agreed, “Donald Trump is successful on social media mainly because he makes so many ignorant comments.”

Donald Trump regularly dismisses people, whether journalists or other candidates, via Twitter. He recently tweeted about Jeb Bush saying, “Everybody is laughing at Jeb Bush- spent $100 million and is at bottom of pack. A pathetic figure!”

The other Republican candidates focus their social media efforts on the people who are voting or canvassing for them. The Democratic candidates do the same thing, while sometimes arguing via Twitter.

“I think (social media) will still be out there in the future for politics,” Perez said. “It won’t inform people in depth but it will definitely give exposure.”

Whether you fall on the left or right side of politics, social media makes things more personal. If you’re out canvassing for your favorite candidate and tweet a picture of it, you might just get retweeted by them.

“If Twitter and Facebook are still relevant platforms by the time I’m 40, I can see political campaigns really taking off on social media,” Jacosalem, 20, said.

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