2008 YouthRoots

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:

Hillary Clinton
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.

John Edwards
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.

Barack Obama
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).

Second Tier:

Bill Richardson
Students for Bill Richardson - FaceBook
College Students for Bill Richardson - FaceBook
Students for Richardson - FaceBook
Bill Richardson - MySpace, FaceBook - Official

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.

Third Tier:

Mike Gravel
Students for Gravel - Website, MySpace
Mike Gravel - MySpace, Official, FaceBook

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.

Chris Dodd
Chris Dodd - MySpace, FaceBook - Official
Students for Dodd - FaceBook
Students for Chris Dodd - FaceBook

Joe Biden
Joe Biden - FaceBook, MySpace - Official
Students for Biden - Website, FaceBook, Party Builder

Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich - FaceBook, MySpace - Official
Kucinich 2008 - MySpace
Students for Kucinich - Party Builder

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.

Tags: 2008 election, Future Majority, Grassroots Organizing, Millennials, youth vote (all tags)



Re: 2008 YouthRoots

Hey, "YouthRoots" - that's a catchy name for all this!

by clockwerks 2007-05-06 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: 2008 YouthRoots

The Edwards campaign has been pretty awesome, in my opinion, with connection to the grassroots leaders organizing in their communities.  Through One Corps, we've been able to activate supporters in ways that uniquely fit our areas - and in a way that is anything but top-down.  Much of the organization from the national campaign has been along the lines of skeletal activities where we flesh things out that are appropriate to things on the ground.

But the campaign has also been very attentive to our needs in responding to requests for information, resources, and the like.  My contact at One Corps stays in good touch with me, though realizing that we don't necessarily need tons of direction, but benefit from his help along the way.

On the student organizing front, I've created a student group at UW-Madison that is starting to get going.  Same deal there with relationship with the campaign.  

One thing that's met with my own approval is the non-siloing of the campaign orgs.  In my local area, we decided to have a seperate student group apart from the One Corps group, so as to have an actual student-directed org and not just a student arm of the One Corps group.  This is proving helpful in having students take the lead on making their org something they own and direct.  But in general, instead of segmenting different 'constituency' groups, people from all demographics are treated all like valuable parts of the campaign and student activism is just as valuable as labor activism just as valuable as party activism.  That's been a big victory, so students are not given a pat on the head and told "you go over here and do your thing when we tell you to do so."  The students are a vibrant and important part of the campaign but not set off in the corner because the young people might scare the 'real' voters and activists.  

Walking that line between a student org that runs itself and being a seperate entity has not been a problem simply because the campaign has empowered us at the grassroots to direct our campaign locally.  And the buy-in from al activists on the ground has been great in that respect.  

by Peter from WI 2007-05-06 07:46PM | 0 recs
Re: 2008 YouthRoots

Thanks for the update.  Good points, all.  Though I would say that to my mind, it's not so much a matter of independence or direction from the campaign.  It sounds like you have a good balance of each, which is nice to hear.  What I was critiqueing was the seeming inability of student or youth groups - which face common challenges - to talk to or view the work of each other.

There may not be silos between parts of the campaign because it's all one, but that creates different types of walls that prevents sharing of best practices and a sense of what is going on w/r/t student/youth organizing among and between those organizers.

That's how it appears from the outside.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.

by Mike Connery 2007-05-07 04:29AM | 0 recs


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