Young Voters Play Web-Fueled Politics

Heather Smith says the 2008 election is ringing in the political power of those under 35 with a force not seen since the 1960s. She's with "Rock The Vote" - a non-partisan group for politically minded young people, reports CBS News science and technology reporter Daniel Sieberg.

Smith says it is "unbelievable" how many young voters are involved this year.

They are the wired generation - 18- to 34-year-olds who are using social networking to move their political activism from cyberspace to the real world.

"Really serious issues that affect us and our generation and we're fed up with politicians making decisions about them without our input," Smith says.

They meet each other online and share opinions. Nearly 14 million strong on Facebook alone, they're an instant pool of voters for the presidential campaigns to tap into. Barack Obama is getting the biggest share. One click of the mouse can reach more than 370,000 of his supporters, like 21-year-old Karl Meyer.

"Really, I think it's his message. I mean obviously he's younger, and more energetic than the other candidates, I believe," Meyer said.

A pro-Obama music video made by the Black Eyed Peas for the web has been seen by 11 million people in just one week.

"We're watching people, new people, participating in a process and changing the way that we understand the medium and the way we understand politics," said David Birdsell of Baruch College.

On the Republican side, Ron Paul has tapped into the digital world most successfully - earning $6 million from online supporters in just one day but he doesn't have a single delegate.

The question is whether the excitement online will be enough to spur young people from sitting behind their computers to standing behind the voting curtain.

  • CBSNews

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