This article was originally posted by Act Now, a Democratic political organization, prior to the 2012 presidential election. The post features insights by Jack Myers, author of Hooked Up: A New Generation’s Surprising Take on Sex, Politics and Changing the World. Sally also wrote about the book for the Social Media Week blog.


 Hooked-Up4 logoJack Schlossberg, John F. Kennedy’s grandson, is urging young voters like himself to vote for President Obama. “President Obama understands what our generation contributed in 2008,” he wrote in a column published today on CNN. “He knows where we stand on issues and he agrees with us — he’s been our biggest ally in Washington since the start of his presidency.”

Schlossberg cites Obama’s positions on women’s and gay rights, education, healthcare, and immigration as reasons to stick with the Democratic incumbent.

Conversely, Republican stances on such issues are causing a major riff with young voters, according to Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief Paul West. “Younger voters reject its positions on abortion, same-sex marriage and attendant issues — such as contraception — which Democrats have used against the GOP for months,” he wrote last week from the Republican convention.  “Republicans are becoming an older and whiter party in a nation that is becoming less so. Unless Republicans can broaden their appeal, the party’s viability could ultimately be in doubt.”

The analyses furnished by Schlossberg and West are backed up Jack Myers, a media-industry consultant and chairman of the Media Advisory Group, who has spent the last two years researching Internet Pioneers, the country’s first generation to not know life without the Internet.  This group of 21.2 million Americans—born between 1991 and 1995, just before and after the 1993 launch of Mosaic, the first Internet browser—are the subject of Myers’s book,  Hooked Up: A New Generation’s Surprising Take on Sex, Politics and Changing the World.


I wrote in June about this book from a marketing perspective and am turning again to this resource for political context. Given the influence that social media has over everyone’s lives, it is worthwhile to assess how digital natives view their world in an election year.

“Internet Pioneers have grown up on the Internet, a place of collaboration and integration and where they have seen positive support for human rights and diversity,” Jack said in an interview today. “They don’t comprehend the foundation of the Republican stance. It’s foreign and unnatural to them.”

Their collaborative nature means they are also open to other people’s viewpoints and to compromise. “This generation has grown up with political polarization—they are sick and tired of it and have no use for it. Throughout their whole lives, they have witnessed a Republican party and political leaders who reject collaboration and compromise, and reject almost everything that this generation stands for.”

Internet Pioneers have more ethnic diversity than any previous generation of college-age youth, according to Myers’s research. A larger percentage of them are Hispanic, Black and Asian, and there are more Muslims in this cohort than in past college-age groups. Of college students in 2012, 59% are female, and that disproportionate share will increase for at least a decade. Of graduate students, about 65% are women.


The Media Advisory Group in 2011 surveyed 1,000 young people between the ages of 17 and 21, who were either in college or planning to attend. Of those, 22% said they are liberal/progressive, 19% are moderate, and 17% conservative. A large group, 41%, does not have a political persuasion or don’t know what they are. Only 1% of those surveyed see themselves as libertarian. Almost all of them will vote: 88%.

Of the conservatives, 96% will vote, compared to 91% of liberals/progressives and 91% of moderates.

Regardless of political affiliation or lack thereof, Myers’s survey revealed key trends:

84% agree that women should have the right to terminate pregnancies in at least some instances, and 53% believe they should have the right in all instances if medically safe.
Only 20% disapprove of same-sex marriage.
59% believe the government should support health care for all people.
Only 24% believe there should be no tax increases of any type.
86% believe global climate change is real
Only 44% approve of strict gun-control enforcement
Internet-pioneering conservatives tend to be more liberal than their Republican Party leaders, whose platform bans abortion in all instances. Only a minority of young conservatives agree with that position, while nearly one-third support a woman’s right to choose.

Of the young conservatives surveyed, 30% said they believe women should have the right to an abortion if it is medically safe, compared with almost 60% of progressives and moderates who said so.
39% of conservatives surveyed said abortion should be illegal in some but not all instances, compared to 4% of liberals/progressives and 7% of moderates who believe so.
31% of conservatives believe abortion should be illegal in all instances, compared to 16% of liberals/progressives and 35% of moderates.
No one can predict this year’s Presidential election, but these young voters will lean left and could determine the election, Myers said, recalling the 2008 election when Obama beat Republican candidate John McCain by about 9.5 million votes. Obama overwhelmingly took the youth vote then and may do so again.

This year, 21 million Internet Pioneers will be eligible to vote for the first time. “Only 10% say they won’t vote; 70% to 80% will vote progressive or liberal. They are much more likely to vote Democratic,” Myers said.


Carolyn says:
5 September 2012 at 6:04 am
Great reminder that most of young America does not share Republican values. What we have to do is make sure they vote. Go ACT NOW!

Alan says:
5 September 2012 at 9:04 am
Let’s hope this generation does vote as these data predict, but let’s not leave it to chance. A get-out-the-vote effort is still needed.

Thanks for a well-organized and clear summary.


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