McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Vladimir Medenica

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Major and Classification

Political Science and Psychology

Faculty Mentor

  • Jane Junn, Ph.D.

Department

  • College of Letters, Arts, & Sciences

McNair Project

Posting Political Participation: Young Voter Political Engagement on Social Networking Sites

Abstract
This study examines the political engagement of young Americans on social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace). Social networking sites, like radio and television, alter how younger populations communicate and engage with politicians and politics. This shift necessitates better online campaigning methods considering that 84% of young voters have a social networking profile but youth election turnout is under 50%. Existing literature focuses on various forms of youth political mobilization but does not specifically focus on social networking sites--a realm that is dominated by a younger demographic. The importance of social networking sites as a potential source of political support is amplified by a recent report finding traits of addiction among site users. This study measures the political attitudes and behaviors of 18-30 year-old Americans using an online survey. Assuming that individuals who are politically engaged offline will be more engaged online, this study attempts to understand how young voters connect with politics in an online environment. Online campaigning and voter turnout among young voters are powerful variables that have influenced the results of the 2004 and the 2008 presidential elections; this study provides information that can aid politicians in courting and securing the historically desirable, but ephemeral, youth vote.