One need only look at their Facebook news stream to realize that people engage in politics on social media. How many times have you seen a status update followed by a bagillion comments arguing points that will never result in anyone changing their minds?
All the frickin’ time.
But now, there are some numbers to back up this observation. According to a recent survey conducted by the University of Chicago’ MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics, nearly a quarter of all young people ages 15-25 use social media to engage in politics. That number makes up half of all of that group that uses social media at all.
The other half are just there to bore you with mundane facts about their life, or leave open-ended statements in the hope that people will engage with them online.
E.g., “OMG! You will never believe what just happened at WalMart!”
The national survey questioned 3,000 people, with an oversampling of minorities in order to be able to accurately compare demographics. Also interesting, the study found that all ethnicities were just as likely to engage in politics online, with African-Americans in the lead by a slight margin.
What’s more, it seems like these individuals aren’t just all talk. U.S. citizens who were 18 or older and who engaged in at least one act of participatory politics were twice as likely to report voting in the November 2010 elections as those who did not engage in participatory politics. A large proportion—37 percent of all young people—engages in both participatory and institutional politics. And finally, among young people who engage in participatory policies, 90 percent of them either vote or engage in other forms of politics.
You can bet Obama and Romney will try to make big pushes on social media this year.