OREM — The reach and efficiency of social media and its appeal to young voters was considered one of the reasons President Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election and why the Republicans struggled. But a recent study by a local professor appears to show that's not totally true.
Utah Valley University communications professor Matthew Kushin thought young voters would have been swayed by social media. Obama utilized YouTube to get his message out and much of his campaign utilized online social platforms. Kushin and research partner Masahiro Yamamoto at Washington State University conducted a survey of randomly selected college students, ages 18 to 29, during the two weeks leading up to the 2008 election. The survey asked respondents about their media use habits for information about the election.
They found that young people turned to their usual sources for information such as news and campaign websites.
"The traditional online sources were the factor for these young adults in this survey," he said. "This suggests that consuming political content on social media was not as influential as commonly perceived in motivating young adults' political engagement."
Kushin said people were still getting used to social media two years ago. He believes social media will play a larger role in the general election this year and in years to come.
"I think that more candidates and more media outlets are pushing out content through social media so it's becoming more normal."