MTV and My Space’s plans for a series of candidate “dialogues” has the goal of boosting voter turnout — the latest iteration of the “Choose or Lose” franchise.
But have “Choose or Lose,” “Rock the Vote” and the many other get-out-the-vote efforts worked?
Maybe so. In the 2004 presidential election, the 18-29 age group remained 17% of the voting population, the same as 2000. But voter turnout among the youth population jumped 9 percent, to more than 50 percent, with nearly 5 million more showing up to the polls compared to 2000.
The turnout rate in 2004 matched that of 1992, which, by the way, is when MTV seriously entered the picture.
According to a report from the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Iraq and terrorism were top issues that helped drive young people to the polls. But this age group also said a reason for going to the ballot box was “my family or friends encouraged me to vote.” Of less influence was a campaign’s phone call or group contact. So take your pick on where hip TV and the Internet efforts fit in.
There’s much speculation that this year, with MySpace and YouTube in the mix, as well as the continued popularity of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report,” this audience will be engaged as never before, and turnout’s upward trend will continue.