Social Media Hasn’t Transformed Voter Turnout Rates

Washington Post: Social media can be apolitical. The Pew Research Center recently found that “more than a third of adult Twitter users who are uninterested in politics saw no political content at all on Twitter. If you rely on social media, it is possible to completely miss a political event as important as a national election.”

“This may be one reason why the rapid rise of social media has not boosted youth voter turnout. Based on the National Exit Polls’ demographic data (which are the best data we have at this point), CIRCLE calculates that about 21.5 percent of young adults voted in 2014. Since 1994, when comparable exit polls were first conducted, that proportion has never risen above 24 percent, nor fallen below 20 percent. This year’s turnout was almost precisely at the 20-year average.”

“What remains constant is the basic class divide. Young people who are on track to economic success are much more likely to participate politically than those who are struggling.”

“It appears that social media do not dramatically improve youth voter turnout or help a great many disadvantaged young people engage in other forms of politics. But the new media do enable effective activism.”

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