by Mike Connery, Sun May 06, 2007 at 02:13:35 PM EDT
Cross posted at Future Majority
One of the things I want to do through the course of this primary is track the "youthroots," or "under 30" grassroots organizing on behalf of candidates - campus groups, high school groups, or other identified youth groups (like Punx for Dean in '04). I want to not only track these groups, but look at how they organize their members, how they coordinate with each other, and how they coordinate with the "official" youth operations of the campaigns. The end goal being to compare, contrast, and establish best practices for youth outreach.
As a start to that project, I've compiled a list of all the groups I could find for each candidate based on some simple Google searches (candidate name + youth, student, teen, high school), a look at the blogrolls/links, and some quick surfing on MySpace and FaceBook. I'll follow it up with emails to the administrators of all those groups and report back the results later this week along with some more thoughts as to who's youthroots are organizing most effectively and why. If you are part of - or know of - any other youthroots that I'm missing for any candidate, please add a link in the comments.
There are some preliminary thoughts based on initial observations offered throughout the post.
Starting with the top tier:
Students for Hillary - Website, FaceBook
Teens for Clinton - Website, FaceBook
Hillary Clinton - MySpace, FaceBookOfficial
Hillary Clinton 2008 - MySpace, FaceBook
1,000,000 Strong for Hillary - FaceBook
Kids for Hillary - Website
No Official "Students" or "Youth" page on the campaign website that I could find. Word on the street is that Hillary is not yet reaching out to these unofficial groups.
Students with Edwards - Campaign WebsiteOfficial
John Edwards - MySpace, FaceBookOfficial
Students for Edwards - Website, MySpace, FaceBook
John Edwards OneCorps - MySpace
Law Students for Edwards - Blog, FaceBook
John Edwards is Good - Website, FaceBook
There is an official student outreach program listed on the campaign website, but it's kind of hard to find and not very substantive or interactive. Unofficial Students for Edwards groups are using the OneCorps tool, but with zipcode as the only method of search within OneCorp, it's tough to find national or state level student or youth groups. I know Edwards has staff whose job it is to focus on youth, and he's been doing college tours, but I don't yet know how much interaction there is between the grassroots and the campaign.
Students for Barack Obama - Website, FaceBook, MySpace - Official
Barack Obama for President in 2008 - FaceBook
Beer for a New Politics - Act Blue, FaceBook
Students for Barack Obama: Michigan - Party Builderr
Barack the Youth Vote - Website, FaceBook, MyBarackObama Group
My.BarackObama.com - Student and Youth subsites
One Million Strong for Barack - FaceBook, MySpace
Young Democrats for Obama - Party Builder
Despite this last week's brouhaha, Barack seems to be doing the best job not only in attracting grassroots youth followers, but in organizing them. One unofficial group - Students for Barack Obama - has already been co-opted by the campaign and integrated into his online organizing system (my.barackobama), and I know that other groups have been approached by the campaign, even if they've chosen to remain independent. I somewhat harshly reviewed the new Students for Barack Obama website a few weeks ago. It's improved a little since then, and it's ahead of Edwards in the simplicity with which new supporters can find new groups to join (ie searching by keyword in addition to zip code).
Richardson has a few FaceBook groups going, but support is shallow. None of the groups have more than 100 members. There's nothing on his site, and searches of Google yield nothing. His official profile seems to be the only significant presence on MySpace.
One reason they Students for Gravel site appeals to me so much is that it's relatively open. It's easy to know what's going on. By contrast, many of the other candidate youth pages are fairly opaque, and they read like press releases rather than activist hubs. This even reverberates across the various FaceBook and MySpace groups of the candidates. Many of these grassroots groups seem to be about promoting their candidate rather than doing things on behalf of the candidate. The Students for Gravel site screams the opposite. C'mon . . . they're trying to Google Bomb their candidate.
Biden, Kucinich and Dodd all have pretty lackluster grassroots. Kucinich does well on MySpace, but as I've mentioned, most candidate MySpace pages are pretty much giant press releases. There doesn't seem to be any actual self-organizing, or even conscious organizing of young people on the part of the campaigns beyond establishing a presence on the major social networks.
As I said in the beginning, this is all just a first step in a longer process of analyzing the youthroots of all the progressive/democratic candidates. Next step will be to contact the organizers of these groups that do exist to find out what they are doing, and contact the campaigns to find out about "official" youth operations and the relationship to these grassroots groups.
If you run one of these groups, or if you see that I left something off the list, please leave a link in the comments or email me directly through the contact form.