CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Democrats and Obama Campaign Build Youth Outreach Into Convention

September 7th, 2012
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Prior to the Republican National Convention, we summarized some of the efforts among Republican-allied groups to reach young people.

This week, Democrats and the Obama campaign took efforts to engage youth during the Democratic National Convention.

Why is outreach relevant? Young people turn out to vote when asked, when spoken to, and when they can participate. (In that respect, voting is similar to other forms of engagement.)

Here’s some of what we saw this week:

  • Youth were seen as a significant-enough constituency that the 2012 Democratic National Convention had an official staffer, the Youth Engagement Coordinator, solely committed to coordinating and organizing events for youth. The Democrats also created a youth-focused page on the Convention site. This page included social media info and other ways to follow the event, and stories of young people and youth-focused events at the convention.
  • The many ways to follow the convention included many live-streamed speeches. On Thursday night, Kal Penn, actor and former White House staffer, hosted predominantly young guests and celebrities to discuss the election. This feature was announced through a video, playing off of Kal Penn’s past movie role.
  • The Democratic convention also featured several prominent young speakers. These speakers included Kal Penn, and Benita Veliz and Sandra Fluke spoke in primetime on Wednesday night. Scarlett Johansson spoke directly to fellow youth urging people to commit to vote in her comments on Thursday night, and a student named Angie Flores introduced Dr. Biden.
  • Mobile technology also played a role this week. Although relying on mobile outreach is not solely a strategy for youth,, youth are more likely than the general adult population to have smartphones. Mobile efforts included a mobile app, allowing people to follow the convention, and, for individuals who had come to Charlotte, to find information. The campaign also sent out a text message Thursday night to remind subscribers of the President’s speech and the coverage leading up to it.

This year CIRCLE has launched #YouthTruth, an education campaign to provide stakeholders with the research and resources they need to tell an accurate story about youth election participation.

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