For eight years, Americans have been told that Democrats have a decisive advantage among young people, and especially on the Internet. That might have been true with the rise and re-election of Barack Obama. But as his presidency falters, and as Republicans invest in technology, the tide is rapidly turning. In fact, among students, Republicans are now far ahead of Democrats on social media, winning on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
As Sean McMinn of the Scripps Howard News Wire reported recently:
On Facebook, the College Democrats of America have just 17,400 “likes,” compared to the College Republican National Committee’s 124,700. That’s seven times more.
And on Twitter, the Democrats’ count of 33,600 followers is behind the Republicans’ 56,700.
Even more shocking: While the College Republicans are consistently churning out videos with several thousand views on YouTube, all but one video on the College Democrats’ YouTube account is set to “private.”
Democrats counter that mere numbers of users or views on social media do not translate into votes, and that the key in Internet campaigning is translating online enthusiasm into offline activism. Republicans also use professional staff to manage their social media presence among students, whereas Democrats rely on volunteer efforts. Still, the edge–even if symbolic–is significant as a possible indicator that the GOP can turn the tide.
The Republican Party’s technology comeback is at least partly due to a new focus after the 2012 elections, which includes hiring former Facebook engineer Andy Barkett in 2013. The rise of conservative new media, as well as the emergence of a small but influential group of conservative entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, may be helping as well.
Above all, there is the perennial pull of novelty and rebellion–sharper in an age of campus conformity.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak