What it takes to reach young people: A late-night comedian

posted at 10:05 pm on February 7, 2012 by Tina Korbe

In a sign that the GOP candidates could definitely stand to up their game with young people, a new Pew Research Center study shows that interest in and enjoyment of political news among young people is down significantly from 2008.

Just 20 percent of young people say they have been following news about the campaign closely. Four years ago, 31 percent of that age group reported a close interest. A mere 29 percent say they regularly learn about candidates and campaigns online compared with 42 percent early in the 2008 campaign. They’re utilizing daily newspapers and nightly network news less, too. During the 2008 campaign, 25 percent of millennial voters regularly checked out daily newspapers for campaign news. Today, that number is down to 11 percent. Nightly network news experienced a similar drop in its young audience; 24 percent followed during the 2008 campaign, while just 12 percent follow today.

Young voters are also less likely to enjoy following political news, in general. Just 13 percent of those under 30 say they enjoy following the news a lot, while almost a quarter say they don’t enjoy it at all.

Meanwhile, interest in the 2012 campaign as compared with the 2008 campaign hasn’t declined nearly as much with other age groups; that means the interest gap between older and younger voters has widened. But that doesn’t mean young voters don’t pay more attention to certain news sources than their older siblings and parents. Young voters are more likely to turn to late-night comedians for their news, for example. Just 7 percent of voters 30-49, 9 percent of voters 50-64 and 6 percent of voters 65 and older cite late-night comedians as a news source — but 15 percent of young people do. Same story with Facebook and Twitter: 11 percent of young people say they receive campaign news on Facebook and 4 percent say they receive campaign news on Twitter. The numbers among older voters are minuscule.

Millennial voters pose a dilemma for candidates: They’re unlikely to turn out at the polls, so they’re not worth wasting much campaign time and attention on — but, then again, a little time and attention would go a long way toward engaging young voters’ interest. The good news is, meeting young voters where they are is a cheap proposition for candidates. After all, reaching out on social media and making a few more late-night TV appearances doesn’t cost much. It shouldn’t be hard to frame the issues in a way that resonates with young voters, either: We are, after all, the debt-paying generation.

Just a day ago, a very non-politically-engaged friend of mine about my age was examining his paycheck and commented offhand, “I hate that I have to pay Social Security when I know I’ll never get that money back.” Bingo. Voters under the age of 30 have the largest stake in entitlement reform of all — and entitlement reform is arguably the most important issue facing the nation today. It’s essential to address the debt and deficit and the nation’s general stability. Maybe politicians need to work to create a new base of voters — so they can tackle the tough stuff without fear of non-reelection reprisal.


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First!

(but probably not by now)

Glenn Jericho on February 7, 2012 at 10:11 PM

A picture of CoCo used for this topic?

John Stewart hardest hit…

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on February 7, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Nope… definitely first

Glenn Jericho on February 7, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Good luck with that. Even the most intelligent among my friends blurt out ridiculous phrases such as “Yea, Rick Perry was such a racist bafoon wasn’t he?” or “Yea, you get dinner, I’m sure I may a lot more in taxes than you do!”.

The one thing that may work, as you mentioned, is the paying SS and banking on not receiving any benefit. If one thing is gonna hook the “me first!” generation, it’s gonna be actually paying for something.

preallocated on February 7, 2012 at 10:14 PM

With the headline…I thought JugEars picture with the ears and mole would have been used again!

KOOLAID2 on February 7, 2012 at 10:14 PM

The shine is off Obama.

They won’t be motivated to vote for him twice.

That’s so passe.

profitsbeard on February 7, 2012 at 10:14 PM

Forgive me, that was meant to be “pay more taxes” not “may”.

preallocated on February 7, 2012 at 10:14 PM

Yet isn’t it amazing “young people” can’t even name the Vice President of the United States? Oh wait, now I get it.

Mr Galt on February 7, 2012 at 10:14 PM

[..]friend of mine about my age was examining his paycheck[..]

What is this paycheck thing you speak of? I can almost remember that term and what it means but I’m kind of foggy on it. Maybe it will come to me later this year.

kahall on February 7, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Most of the interest four years ago was the shiny novelty of a black guy and a woman colliding with BDS in full froth.

Now it’ll be a white businessman against a disappointing failure that no one can quite bring themselves to loathe because he’s a Democrat.

HitNRun on February 7, 2012 at 10:16 PM

fifth!

(but probably not by now)

young people got us Barack Obama. I hope they stay home. I’m young…but I can say that cause I voted g-dub.

DHChron on February 7, 2012 at 10:16 PM

Do we even want the Millennial’s engaged? Granted if we could wake them up to the fact that they are going to pay the big taxes, that would be one thing. But many of them would say “Make the rich pay more.” I think it’s going to take them being out in the real world for a few years and even then it will only make a difference if they are running their own businesses or have served in the military. My son turns 28 this year and he is definitely conservative but he was homeschooled in our very conservative family, and is presently serving in the military. Unfortunately I see a great number of today’s youth and I shudder to think who they would vote for if they make it to the voting booths. I say if they are not engaged politically and don’t know when voting day is, then don’t tell them, as they are likely to vote based on what some comedian told them.

RAN58 on February 7, 2012 at 10:23 PM

DHChron on February 7, 2012 at 10:16 PM

Amen. If you only voted because some celebrity told you to, you’re a pawn, not a responsible citizen. In fact, no one who votes because of some “get out the vote” program should be voting. Those programs shouldn’t exist. If you aren’t interested enough in politics to check in at least several times a year in “off” years and ramp it up significantly as election day approaches, you’re ignorant, and the ignorant should not be (note that I don’t say “should be prohibited from”) voting.

CanofSand on February 7, 2012 at 10:24 PM

young people got us Barack Obama. I hope they stay home. I’m young…but I can say that cause I voted g-dub.

DHChron on February 7, 2012 at 10:16 PM

Just got back from a caucus in MN. On a college campus. Ron Paul = 75% of votes in the precinct. So yeah… I hope they stay home.

Mr. Prodigy on February 7, 2012 at 10:24 PM

I’ve said I’m firmly behind Bill Pullman from Independence Day…or the eventual GOP nominee.

DHChron on February 7, 2012 at 10:29 PM

yes, If Bill Pullman from Independence Day decides his one term and joyous victory over aliens bent on the destruction of Earth is enough…I’ll vote for Mitt.

DHChron on February 7, 2012 at 10:32 PM

Bill Pullman 2012!

or Mitt…whatever

DHChron on February 7, 2012 at 10:39 PM

Chris Matthews says Obama’s smile is worth 10 points.

I submit Bill Pullman’s smile is worth 20.

Bill Pullman from Independence Day 2012

DHChron on February 7, 2012 at 10:43 PM

Yes, go on late night comedy shows…but don’t try to be a comedian or suck up to them. Be a teacher. And act your age.

What the young need now is the cold hard truth. The Democrats and the media have screwed up their future and they need to unlearn more than they need to learn.

Cleombrotus on February 7, 2012 at 10:43 PM

Hey I’m 18-29 and I’ll take a crack it.

I’d say there are a lot of young people who would be receptive to conservative, and not just libertarian, politics. The problems as I see it:

The media is eager to portray our entire generation as Occupy Timbuktu, and the GOP believes it and writes us off as a loss. The closest we’ve got to messaging towards us is Rick Perry on social security.

Without employment histories to prove our worth, we live in fear of what being branded as a racist, homophobe, flat-earther, greedy, etc. etc. can do to us. Before I found like-minded people with the internet, I would’ve considered myself a libertarian until I realized that this was a compromise to liberal thought-bullying. It’s like Winston watching the telescreen and only being able to wonder how many people agreed with him.

If I can put my tin foil hat on, I think academia has an objective to make young people sex addicts – we just have to have sex all the time and that’s what normal people do. Addicts are paranoid. They play on that paranoia to message that respect for family values and the Christian inspiration for our way of government means that they’re going to exert legal power to forbid you from getting your “fix”.

I took AP History in high school and got a 5. I learned in this class that New Deal politics had all Americans parading in the streets with joy. John Maynard Keynes was the smartest man that ever lived. When Republicans sell conservative politics, they need to realize that this is how education is and go back to the very beginning. Tell people that the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression in a place where they can’t miss it, and just a few people will start thinking, and they won’t be able to stop…

Those things are much, much bigger than what can be accomplished on CoCo.

Transpo on February 7, 2012 at 11:23 PM

The shine is off Obama.

They won’t be motivated to vote for him twice.

That’s so passe.

profitsbeard on February 7, 2012 at 10:14 PM

Everyone knows ya can’t polish an Obama.

viking01 on February 7, 2012 at 11:27 PM

You’d be surprised. Because of Wikipedia and Google darkening to protest SOPA/PIPA, my students were coming to me talking about legislation, censorship, foreign activity. Politics only has to be made relevant to their lives, and while they should take an interest themselves, adults are their guides and should take a hand in showing kids not what interests the adult but what interests the child. Use it as a lead-in to educate the child. From that legislation, I’ve branched out to internet policies, using google and youtube’s recent privacy change, and from there to facebook, to privacy concerns, etc. And this just in the past month.

What’s worried me is that, if my students are to be believed, then I’m the only one that talked to them about this. I’m also the only one that talked to them about the Japanese tsunami, that showed them just what the tsunami looked like and news and videos of it, and brought in the short political quiz that helps them find out which way they lean beyond plain liberal/conservative labels. I’m their English teacher. Their parents should be talking to them, and their other teachers should be talking to them.

The kids don’t hate learning. Quite the opposite. They just hate the boring way it’s given to them. Government class sucks out all the dynamics of actual politics. It’s just the kids don’t know what to ask, or where to go looking for answers. They need adults who don’t just say the millenials shouldn’t vote if they don’t know who to vote for. They need adults to mentor them without insulting their lack of knowledge or coming down on them for not seeking it out before.

And you don’t have to be a teacher to do that. Not sure how to broach the subject? Ask them how they feel about megaupload going down and the guy who ran it facing 50 years in prison. Ask them how they feel about the youtube to mp3 add-on in firefox and how posting songs to youtube could get them in trouble with the law. You might be surprised what you get.

kc-anathema on February 7, 2012 at 11:36 PM

Sheesh, I’ve been saying for a year that we need a conservative answer to Bill Maher. Someone who is either at peace with the 7 words the FCC doesn’t allow or who doesn’t care. We’ve been in sound-bite land for the better part of two decades. Why are conservatives taking this long to figure it out?

Give me someone who will say “Barack Obama is full of s***,” AND THEN EXPLAIN WHY. Make it quotable on the job site the next day. This is worth up to 10 points in November. Good-for-nothing RNC, make it so.

321mdl on February 7, 2012 at 11:39 PM

Let me check my watch… yep, “millenials” still irrelevant.

Hollowpoint on February 7, 2012 at 11:40 PM

Yet isn’t it amazing “young people” can’t even name the Vice President of the United States? Oh wait, now I get it.

Mr Galt on February 7, 2012 at 10:14 PM

They know some.

Most of the Kollege Kids on The Left today know who 5 Time Draft Dodger Dick Cheney is.

But the last time I checked, current Vice pResident Joe Biden had 5 draft dodgeferments too. Of course to the Democrat Fluffers that’s Totally Boring, because he is More Equal than Darth Cheney.

And former Democrat Vice PresiDunce Algore’s Writings are in some Democrat Public Schools Required Curricula.

Meanwhile, the Left still use Dan Quayle in Public School Spelling Lessons, don’t they?

Del Dolemonte on February 7, 2012 at 11:48 PM

Wait….Conan O’Brien is a comedian????

I thought that was thoroughly disproved several years ago!!

…and is the reason he was fired.

landlines on February 8, 2012 at 12:30 AM

landlines on February 8, 2012 at 12:30 AM

Conan’s right behind Craig Ferguson

he’s effin’ hilarious

DHChron on February 8, 2012 at 12:38 AM

SWalker on February 7, 2012 at 10:28 PM

Check out the last post, for what its worth, says its all BS.

And the fact one dude wrote an article, picked up by other dudes (who all add their layer of “I told you so” – while citing the same article) isnt exactly a smoking gun.

If this happened 3 months ago – maybe, not now. You cant come back (Boehner/Issa) from the past months hearings.

Odie1941 on February 8, 2012 at 12:47 AM

Conan’s right behind Craig Ferguson

he’s effin’ hilarious

DHChron on February 8, 2012 at 12:38 AM

The operative word is “BEHIND.”

Both Conan and Ferguson have similar problems: they have only one “schtick,” and it gets OLD and unfunny very quickly.

Conan has the additional problem that his target audience seems to be 12-13 year olds.

landlines on February 8, 2012 at 12:51 AM

I met Mitt in person and I think he appealed to many quite well when I heard him speak. He commented on why he does not understand why young people are liberals when they are going to be bankrupted by the entitlements. I think he has strong crossover appeal that the others just don’t have, unless you count Santorum’s economic plan which is bad. I am an economics major and it just makes me cringe thinking about all the loopholes and paperwork that his populist tax plan would invoke.

ArkyDore on February 8, 2012 at 3:46 AM

Bingo. Its money. That’s how you get their attention. Repub’s must convince young people that they’ll be better stewards of the economy, hence more higher paying jobs and it wouldn’t hurt to start villianizing major universities for charging so much $$. DD

Darvin Dowdy on February 8, 2012 at 7:14 AM

Sorry, IMO the guy’s not funny…and looks like a goofy weirdo.

easyt65 on February 8, 2012 at 7:36 AM

The shine is off Obama.

profitsbeard on February 7, 2012 at 10:14 PM

Must we start the day off with racist comments?/S

Norky on February 8, 2012 at 8:09 AM

Tina, I’m surprised at how myopic you’re being about young voters’ support in this election. The young people who are engaged in this election and who care about Social Security’s eventual insolvency are fully supporting Ron Paul.

Before anyone accuses me of being a Ronulan (I’m not now, nor have I ever been a supporter of his for a bevy of reasons), it’s been stated in virtually every article about the guy that he has a noticeable groundswell of support from young voters, and much of it does come from his calls for federal financial reform. To their detriment in the long run, younger voters are generally turned of by social conservatives, which is one of the main reasons they’re not going to turn out for a Republican just because they’re no longer in love with OBH.

Liberty 5-3001 on February 8, 2012 at 10:38 AM

“Wait….Conan O’Brien is a comedian????

I thought that was thoroughly disproved several years ago!!

…and is the reason he was fired.

landlines on February 8, 2012 at 12:30 AM”

Ya know I tried watching the guy and never understood why they paid him a dime. He should count himself blessed to have been paid so much money for doing so little.

Africanus on February 8, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Ridicule is a very powerful weapon. I enjoy the humor of Jodie Miller at Newsbusted. The GOP would be wise to do something along those lines of her short video clips – and make sure that they enjoy a large audience.

Colony14 on February 8, 2012 at 4:51 PM