Already, we are being inundated with stories about the how social media will shape the 2012 campaigns (and how Facebook may, or may not, transform the Presidency itself). Two facts, however, limit the potential role social media will, ultimately, play in the 2012 election:
1.) Young people are heavy users of social media, but are unlikely to vote.
2.) Older folks are likely to vote, but are much less involved in social media.
Thus, the reality is that social media is best at reaching those least likely votes. In its 2008 post-election analysis, Pew found that while 72% of Americans 18-29 year of age were using the Internet for political activities or information gathering (and 49% used social-networking sites for these purposes), only 22% of Americans 65+ years of age engaged in such activities on the Internet (and a mere 2% did so on social media).
At the same time, young adults are roughly 33% less likely to vote than their grandparents. Continue reading