Obama in 2008 stumped heavily on college campuses and his campaign, political experts have said, took targeted the next generation through its use of social media.
“Now Obama isn’t the hope and change candidate He’s the status quo,” said McAdams. “The young voter surge in 2008 will recede quite a bit.”
Young and liberal
Young voters tend to lean liberally on social issues, and the Democrats have carried their vote since 1992, when then-candidate Bill Clinton secured voters from 46 percent of the 18- to 24-year-old demographic. Incumbent President George H.W. Bush took 33 percent, while political outsider Ross Perot gathered 21 percent, according to the Roper Center.
“Young voters are more vulnerable to the zeitgeist, to the spirit of the age, and are more likely to be swept away with enthusiasms,” said McAdams.
A case in point is Lauren Anderson, a junior majoring in journalism at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“I was a staunch liberal for a long time in high school and early college,” said Anderson, also vice president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Christian student organization. “But I’ve become disillusioned since Obama was elected. … We haven’t seen real improvement on the problems that we’ve faced when (President George W.) Bush was in office.” Anderson pointed to the escalation of violence in Afghanistan and high unemployment.
Enter Ron Paul. Like Perot in 1992, Paul has little chance of winning the general election, or the Republican primary for that matter. He’s at 12 percent nationally for the GOP nod, according to a recent poll by Reason-Rupe, a public opinion research project tracking attitudes about government. The survey of 468 Republicans and “Republican-leaners” was conducted March 10-20, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.
Paul, however, like Obama, has incubated an enthusiastic core following among college students and recent grads looking for something new in a political leader. Paul’s supporters include Anderson.
Paul’s 2012 campaign has capitalized on many of Obama’s successes from 2008 — first and foremost its grassroots organization. Youth for Ron Paul and Young Americans for Liberty, an offshoot of Students for Ron Paul, aims to engage and mobilize young voters on college campuses nationwide.
The other GOP candidates don’t have the same kind of active youth organizations.
New media’s force
The 76-year-old Paul is an Internet heavyweight.
“Ron Paul” was the 10th most searched news query on Google in 2011, according to the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism organization.The only other political person on the list was “Osama bin Laden,” who finished seventh.
On YouTube, a search for “Ron Paul” brings up 278,000 videos. The following searches yielded these video results:
- “Rick Santorum” with 27,800
- “Mitt Romney” with 46,200
- “Newt Gingrich” with 36,500
- “Barack Obama” with 266,000
- Paul at more than 10 million
- Santorum at fewer than 3 million
- Romney with a little more than 6 million
- Gingrich, former U.S. House Speaker from Georgia, with a little less than 10 million views, although social network reports have disputed that number
- Barack Obama Obama crushed all competitors with 178,432,076
- Paul at 146,000
- Santorum at 185,000
- Romney at 404,000
- Gingrich at 1.4 million, although PeekYou’s PeekAnalytics, a social audience measurement organization, has reported that only 8 percent of his followers are human, the others are spam and anonymous sources.
- Romney with more than 1.5 million;
- Paul with fewer than 1 million;
- Gingrich with close to 300,000;
- Santorum with less than 200,000.
There appear to be some interesting connections between social media users and politicians.
- People who “like” Paul or Obama also “like” “Family Guy,” an edgy cartoon series.
- People who “like” the other GOP candidates also “like” “The Bible”, the report found.
- Paul supporters “like” “The Office,” “The Daily Show” and Pink Floyd.
- People who “like” the other GOP candidates also “like” Starbucks and “Small Business Saturday.”
“And just remember, you don’t have to have 51 percent; you need this irate and tireless minority willing to start brush fires in the minds of man.”