On February 1 at 7:00p.m. thousands of Iowans flooded into local community centers, schools, and public buildings to cast their preferences for their party’s candidate. However, it wasn’t the results of the Monday’s caucus that caught the attention of the analysts, it was the crowd.
In 2012, Rick Santorum won the caucus with 29,839 votes, Monday that number would have secured Santorum the less impressive fourth place spot. Monday’s winner, Texas Senator Ted Cruz gained an unprecedented 51,666 votes; over 21,000 more votes than last election’s winner. While specific voter demographics have not yet been released, experts and entrance polls credit the record high turnout to first-time, young voters.
When it comes to catering to the 18-24 year old crowd, Republican businessman Donald Trump and Democrat Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders are winning the game. These two candidates are often credited for bringing these young voters to the polls.
“Undoubtedly Trump and Sanders are appealing to our generation. They have tapped into frustration that our democracy is controlled by special interest groups,” said Greg Manz, Deputy State Director for another presidential campaign, “However, I think we’re seeing more political engagement by millennials because of their realization that a $19 trillion debt is unsustainable and puts their future at risk.”
Fox News correspondent Kimberly Guilfoyle explained Sanders’ explosive growth as an “exciting way” for students facing oppressive debt to get involved on “Fox and Friends” Monday afternoon. On Monday night, Sanders’ campaign cheered, “What Iowa has begun tonight is a political revolution.”
Millennial voters are excited about the possibility of getting behind the beginning of an exciting new era in politics, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Senator Sanders has tailored his campaign specifically to them.
Sanders’ has more than 1.3million followers on Twitter and has experienced the most rapid Twitter growth this year, with Donald Trump following closely behind him. But Bernie’s popularity isn’t limited to cyber space, at his University of Iowa rally last Saturday night, Sanders drew crowds of over 4,000. Students waited in line for over 12 hours to hear from the Senator and his line-up of all-star supporters who catered to the millennial crowd. Vampire Weekend performed and actor Josh Hutcherson fired up the crowd of hopeful, excited voters.
“It’s his passion,” remarked Sanders supporter and college student, Brad Blaylock, “He wants to help the people. He loves people. I trust that Bernie will always do the right thing. His ideas are new. I think our system is broken, and we don’t need a better version of the system, we need a new system and Bernie is offering that.”
The traditional campaign that America once knew is a thing of the past. It began with Barack Obama in 2008 and his creation of the modern campaign. Starting on social media, this new campaign focuses on the younger generation and pleads with them to make a better future for themselves.
During this election season in Iowa, Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley and Republican Rick Santorum were said to have hosted more appearances and events than any other candidates. As of Wednesday night, both O’Malley and Santorum have dropped out of the race.
The mentality of campaigns has changed, and I think we have millennials to thank for that. Snapchat filters and Facebook polls have replaced the old school tactics of the generation before us.
Jack Walecki, an intern for Carly for America Super Pac stated, “Twitter and some of these new technological mediums of communication that millennials use have forced candidates to use them as well. They’ve also allowed voters to have more input in the political process as they can voice their opinions at any time on the Internet.”
Throughout this debate season, moderators have incorporated questions asked by Facebook users. At the last debate in Des Moines, Fox News correspondents took it one step further and streamed questions submitted by YouTube stars, adding yet another dimension to this new age of media.
In 2008, Barack Obama won 69% of the millennial vote. Since then, the race to win over the youth has only intensified. The millennial vote is one of the most pivotal gains for candidates today; each contender is vying for their votes and the competition to win them has created a new era that has brought campaigning into the 21st century.