E-Vote: Generation Y Engages Politically With Web 2.0

"The election isn't the finish line for Generation Y, it's the starting block."

by News Staff / July 1, 2008

Image: Second Life, a Web 2.0 virtual universe in which a number of government agencies have a presence.

MeriTalk today announced the "Generation Y's Bill of Rights" report which provides insight on how Generation Y gets information and makes recommendations for reaching and engaging this critical constituency. The report not only underscores the substantial differences in how Ys and baby boomers learn about and participate in government and politics, but also shows that Ys in various geographies have different information channel preferences.

Based on a survey of more than 2,200 Generation Y and baby boomer respondents in America's top 10 cities, the report shows that 73 percent of Ys plan to vote in the November presidential election -- that's 42.2 million votes. Interestingly, while just 48 percent of Ys report a Democratic affiliation, 71 percent believe a Democratic candidate is best suited to lead the next administration.

Despite their Democratic leanings, only 15 percent of Ys feel a personal connection to their government, and 75 percent said they would vote for a candidate across party lines. Once engaged, Ys will actively advocate their support -- 47 percent said they will tell others about the virtues of their candidate.

"While Ys appear to be leaning heavily Democratic, their votes and long-term loyalty are in play if the candidates can make them feel part of government," said Alan Balutis, distinguished fellow and director, North American Public Sector Consulting, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group. "The election isn't the finish line for Generation Y, it's the starting block."

Comparing how Ys and baby boomers prefer to get information, key differences arise in the value of peer and online sources. Ys are significantly more likely to get their news through word-of-mouth than boomers -- 82 percent versus 56 percent respectively. While both groups recommend TV and live speeches as primary communication channels, Ys value online communication much more than boomers. Forty-six percent of Ys are looking for online communication, versus 21 percent of boomers. Twenty-six percent of Ys want the next president to reach them via YouTube, versus just 5 percent of boomers. Additionally, Ys want the next president to understand and use Web 2.0 -- 88 percent of Ys said they will get their information online over the next four years.

"Ys are going to be demanding voters, pressing for two-way, detailed and honest communication with the president and his administration," said Jeff Chao, IT specialist, Integrated Technology Services, General Services Administration (GSA). "It's not E-Gov to them, it's My-Gov. TV will provide broad reach, but it will not be enough to satisfy Ys' needs for real-time information and interaction."

The "Generation Y's Bill of Rights" study is based on an online survey of 2,303 Generation Y and baby boomer respondents. The survey has a margin of error of ±2.04 percent with a confidence level of 95 percent. The study is available online but requires registration.