May 18, 2012.
President Obama wants you to "like" him. Especially, apparently, if you're under 35.
It's abundantly clear President Obama is chasing the youth vote in a big way: He's been touring at more colleges than an Indy band, and tweeting and updating his Facebook status so much even Jon Stewart turned it into a "Spamalot" comedy sketch on "The Daily Show."
Now there’s evidence it's working.
A just-released Sachs/Mason-Dixon poll drilled down on the influence of the Internet and social media in the 2012 election, and found -- big surprise, for sure -- it's a big deal. Especially among the 18- to 34-year-old crowd.
According to the survey of 1,000 likely voters across the country, the Internet is now the "leading primary source of presidential campaign news (25 percent), followed closely by newspapers/magazines (23 percent), network news (18 percent) and cable news (15 percent)."
More importantly, though, a full 56 percent of the 18- to 34-year-olds said they get most of their presidential campaign news and information from Internet news sites.
Fewer than one in four of the older voters said the same. The older ones tended to rely more on newspapers for their primary source of info. (For those of you who don't know what a newspaper is, as Stephen Colbert once famously said, "it's like a blog that gets ink on your fingers.")
And, nationally, the survey found, "by a 49 percent to 23 percent margin, voters believe Obama is the candidate who makes better use of social media platforms."
Well, duh! He pretty much revolutionized campaigning during his first run in 2008, using social media to stir up interest and undercut his opponents. He may have been an almost unknown U.S. senator when he started the race, but his road to the White House got there in large part by taking a cyber-highway express lane.
And he's doing it again this time. His Facebook page has 26,582,063 likes. It has links to the “Obama Network” page, which connects to the “Women for Obama” http://www.facebook.com/WomenforObama and “Latinos for Obama” pages.
Mitt Romney, by comparison, has 1,730,360 likes. And links to pics and a petition.
The Republicans are trying to close the digital divide. They launched a new Facebook app aimed at engaging its “friends” as campaign volunteers.
Well, hellooooo! Talk about playing catch up. They launched the site last month. Apparently they realized it's 2012. Social media is important. It's how candidates (and real friends, too) connect.
In fact, in a release accompanying the survey noted "An overwhelming 84 percent of voters believe social media (such as Facebook or Twitter) will be important for the presidential candidates to raise money and win votes."
Keep in mind that almost three-quarters of Facebook's users are under 35.
So it's hardly a surprise that the poll found that 56 percent of the 18- to 34-year-olds said, if the election were today, they would vote for Obama, compared to 39 percent for Romney.
Romney, though, is still ahead overall, according to the poll. It may be thanks to the fact that he gets so much man-love (53 to 40 percent), and the overwhelming majority of folks 50 and over (51 to 39 percent). And that's what really counts. Older voters historically turn out in much, much larger numbers than younger voters.
So Romney may be ready to let the president get the likes, as long as he gets the votes.
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