By Janet Tassel
Kristin Soltis Anderson, The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America
(And How Republicans Can Keep Up)
Broadside Books, 2015
Based admittedly on personal bigotry, I have tended to think of the generation known as millennials—kids born in the '80s and '90s—as aliens, or maybe zombies. Moreover, methought (vide Jesse Watters' videos), they are air-headed and superficial—a mile wide and 1/2 inch deep.
But upon reading The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America (And How Republicans Can Keep Up) by pollster and political consultant Kristin Soltis Anderson, a millennial herself, I'm beginning to detect a beating heart and even a brain behind some of those smart phones and video games.
Anderson gets going on what some of us find most idiotic about millennials: their addiction to video games. Where she goes with this, however, is instructive. She highlights the "digital deficit" between Democrats and Republicans. (After all, how old is the kid who fixes your computer, dad?) The Obama team, with its digital, technological and analytics efforts, was miles ahead of the Romney campaign's relatively old-fashioned strategies. The Dems used digital expertise not only for fund-raising and TV ads (by far the largest expenditure), but for advertising in social media like Facebook, Instagram,and Twitter—even on video games themselves. For example,
Players from states like Ohio and Colorado logging on to a game like Need for Speed: Carbon may have found themselves racing down the highway, only to pass a billboard advertising "voteforchange.com" with Obama's face on it.
You can question the virtue of this sort of pandering, but Anderson is saying, "It works." She gives high marks to Reddit, "the self-proclaimed 'front page of the Internet,''' especially the "Ask Me Anything" subreddit, or AMA. If you think it sounds silly, it didn't to the Obama campaign: Obama himself "popped over" with the offer: "Ask Me Anything."
And then there's Snapchat, which a suddenly cool Rand Paul joined in 2014. So why would a politician bother with Snapchat? Peter Hamby of CNN says:
"Politicians—at least the smart ones—aren't just flocking to new platforms because they're trying to be hip, though that's certainly part of the calculation. They're joining them because that's increasingly where the voters are."
Republicans do not have "kick-ass" digital data products that work, says one young GOP nerd. But, as Anderson stresses, "Smart campaigns will make digital a part of every single thing they do."