Potential presidential cadidate Bernie Sanders’ rally at the Wolstein Center Nov. 11 attracted more than 9,000 people, including many younger, college-age voters in the Greater Cleveland area.


December 7, 2015

Presidential hopefuls campaign to attract young voters in 2016

Since early August, almost a million viewers have watched a video of Texas Senator and hopeful Republican candidate Ted Cruz making “Machine-Gun Bacon.”

In the video, he wrapped a strip of raw bacon around the barrel of an assault rifle and fired several magazines of ammo into a paper target at an indoor firing range, cooking the meat with the heat from the gun barrel.

This is one of many attempts made by presidential candidates to gain the attention of younger voters.
Just by taking a look at the comment section of this video — and it received a lot of responses with arguments from various members of the YouTube community either supporting or bashing it — the Republican candidate did gain attention.

However, getting attention isn’t the problem. It’s getting millennial voters to the ballot boxes on Election Day.

In the last presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, only 19 percent of voters were between the ages of 18 and 29 years old, according to the National Exit Poll.

While that is a significantly small number, it was still recognized as one of the most powerful youth turnouts, as the election in 2004 only had 17 percent of voters between 18 to 29 years old, according to the National Exit Poll.

And it is the reason that today’s presidential candidates have directed their attention to this demographic.
Dr. Richard Perloff, professor of communication and political science at Cleveland State University, discussed how President Barack Obama reached the younger voter during his 2008 election.

“Obama’s [youth] excitement was compared to Robert Kennedy in 1968,” Perloff said.

Through social media, speaking directly to millennial groups, and making appearances on college campuses, presidential candidates are continuing to work hard to earn their vote in the upcoming primary.

“Young voters are important because they [can be] rallied [in the masses] for certain campaigns and candidates,” Perloff said. “They have the time, energy, and numbers to help a candidate win in certain primary and caucus states.”

Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders is a very prominent candidate within the college community.
With a promise of free public college tuition if elected into office, his rallies are located predominantly on college campuses.

Sanders recently visited Cleveland State University at the Wolstein Center, where more than 9,000 people came to “Feel the Bern.”

This crowd was overwhelmingly young, liberal, and very supportive of what Sanders stands for — exactly the demographic he is targeting.

While Sanders continues to have rallies exclusively on college campuses across the country, other candidates use more online media tactics to attempt to grab student attention and gain their vote.

For example, Hillary Clinton is a very frequent user of “emojis” on Twitter, and John Kasich celebrated National Cat Day by posting pictures of kittens in front of one of his campaign posters on Twitter.

“There is no guarantee social media will work; success requires good political marketing, outreach, messages, timing, and luck,” Perloff said. “All candidates want to capture social media attention — it entertains and reaches a lot of people.”



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