Web Popularity Doesn't Always Equal Votes

An unidentifed University of Missouri student looks through Facebook while in class Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006, on the Columbia, Mo. campus. AP Photo/L.G. Patterson

This story was written by Victoria Bekiempis of The Oracle at the University of South Florida.

With voter turnout expected to increase among college-age Americans in the 2008 primary and presidential elections, front-running and fringe candidates alike are chasing students with the media most familiar to them - blogs, Facebook groups, Myspace profiles, Wiki software and even text-messaging - in hopes of scoring votes.

The political climate at the University of South Florida and other college campuses across the country, however, raises questions about the effectiveness of the bottom-up Internet activism that's predominately fueled by youth.

Students are increasingly turning to the Web to network and start real-life political organizations, but it remains unclear how deep the so-called netroots will run come Election Day, when the most popular candidates on the Web are among the lowest ranked in official polls.

At USF, the only primary candidates with active student organizations supporting their candidacy are Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, even though Sept. 16 Gallup polls indicate 3 percent of Republicans would support Rep. Paul and 1 percent of Democrats would support Rep. Kucinich in the primaries.

Although a campus club exists for Sen. Barack Obama, who has 21 percent of polled Democrats' support, information for the club has not been updated.

According to the Marshall Center's listing of student organizations, clubs supporting other candidates have yet to be formed.
© The Oracle via UWIRE

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