In American History, we go through many transitions that define our lifestyle This transition can include a new president in the White House, modifications to transportation, alteration to the way we communicate, but we often forget about one transition. This is the transition of generations. We have the Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and now the Millenials. As future campaign strategists, we often hear that President Obama successfully reached this generation of voters, but we never fully understand who they are and how he did other than connected with their tech-savy minds. Millennial Makeover by Hais and Winograd was a truly captivating read, and I definitely feel more informed about my generation and how to reach them.

Hais and Winograd call this reaching generation method, “Realignment Theory.” In this theory, “political scientists movie away from analyzing the outcomes of elections based on candidate personalities and particular issues of the times and to search instead for broader explanations” (p. 17). Many historical and social events cause an era transition; thus, “realignment are temporally associated with sever social or economic crisis.” In 2008, we were suffering from a big economic crisis; we were in need for a new leader. Therefore, campaign strategists needed to sell a presidential candidate who can be this change.

Technology helped get the word out about this ideal candidate. “Technology serves to enable these changes by creating powerful new ways to reach new generation of voters with messages that relate directly to their concerns” p. 24. Through this book, the authors discuss that this new generation of voters are not reading the newspaper like previous generations and are skipping over advertisements on television because of DVR (p. 154).  Candidates need to stand out if they want to get elected.

I thought it was very helpful that the authors included several pages listing the characteristics of the millennial generation that every campaign strategists should know. Additionally, they included relevant statistics to support their claims. These include but aren’t limited to the fact that millenials like to engage in civil activities, not concerned for racial differences (The Cosby Show is what many millenials know as their first show p. 77), international friendly (1 in 5 millennial has an immigrant parent p. 67), and they are a positive generation! Sixty-four percent believe we live in a very exciting time.

Nevertheless, they feel that political figures can make things better (p. 92). From self-research, I can decipher that is because they seem them like their “helicopter” parents. This 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child’s or children’s experiences and problem. Therefore, 69% of millenials are in favor of a bigger government to help them get back on track. However, millenials are more democratic.

(Drumroll) We have reached a new era in presidential elections, and the Democrats are successful. In 2006, “millennials voted for Democratic House candidates over Republications nationally by a wide margin (60% vs. 38%).” (p. 105).

Before the 2008 election, research strategists believed the candidate with more money will be the winner, but this proved to be false. Politicians began “winning without the mother’s milk of politics” (p. 124). In the Internet marketing terms, the “Internet went viral. Each activist recruited other friends to join the cause, creating a snowball effect as the momentum and excitement grew” (p. 130)

“With MySpace and other social networking tools, each voter become his or own campaign office and flood the nation’s political speech with unfiltered ideas from every corner of the country” (p. 153). Social-Networking helped everybody to become a producer and have a voice in the world. Additionally, social networking has made individuals feel equal to these great politicians. “Sixty-four percent of Millenials believe everyone in their group is equal, so they tend to make decisions together with the leader managing a serch for consensus rather than trying to dictate their response should be.” (p. 170). Millenials look up to their politician has the political boss who can speak for them.

Literally, I can go on listing the lessons I’ve learned from this book, but I’ll conclude with the most important one. Strategists have the “weapons” they need, but few knew how to use them effectively.

A common mistake of those engaged in technology armed race is a to assume that the technology is intrinsically of strategic value. In fact, technology is only useful when its use meshes with political strategy that a campaign or party has decided on.” (p. 183).

I must have lighted this quote in 5 colors in the book; it has become my philosophy for Internet Advocacy.

And so in 2008, as in 1860, and 1932, a new president was elected with the opportunity to use a new communication technology to mobilize an emerging civic generation transformation American forever” (p. 292)

Welcome to the Future!

As I read the series, The Dimensions of Digitally Networked Campaign by Alan Rosenblatt, I couldn’t help but to think this is what every campaign strategist needs to read. When campaign strategists launch a strategy, they only use one of the three dimensions. They just build a website (1D), send an email proposing action (2D) or just utilize one of the many social networking websites (3D). But, the truth of the matter is your audience is going to spend most of their time on one of the sites. However, you can never determine, which one that is, or who the audience member it is.

Additionally, Online Politics 101 was a great introduction and guide to building a website and utilizing the Web to its max. The article not only serves as a guide or checklist but also as a critique.

I have done my fair share of website designing, so I have become a natural critic. But, a website’s design and appearance are not everything. Delany nails it when he talks that you must choose the right tools to incorporate in your site.

A website is more than a booklet of knowledge. It is a way to communicate with the people across the states and the globe. These articles remind myself and campaign strategist that you must have social networks like Twitter or Facebook to go along with it to be complete.

You must think about ends before you think about the means, brilliance almost always takes second place to persistence, content is key, and you need a sell an idea.

However, it offers the ability for voters to take campaigns into their own hands and is the big game changer for advocacy and politics. The Internet is a wildly evolving and not for the faint of heart.

However, Rosenblatt can’t say it better, when he mentioned it is a new playing field.

“To thrive in this new playing field, advocacy and political campaigns must excel in all three campaign dimensions. And while campaigns must still focus on message and organization, broad access to digital networking tools make for much more competition for the campaigns coming from a multitude of sources. Today, it is all about managing chaos.”

The Internet is not a tame beast, but it can be weaned to reach different generations.

The Matures and Baby Boomers see the Internet as an online magazine and source of information. They are also a thrifty generation. So, when they hear the Internet is free and has information, they are thrilled. Generation Xers see the Internet as a source of an action. They grew up during the Nixon Era and saw if they had a speculation, they can speak out and take action to do something. Taking action is as simple as a click away? They are in heaven. And millenials (my generation) see it as a way to connect and find other people like them. We are the first generation to engage in Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). MMORPG is a genre of computer role-playing games in which players interact with one another within a virtual world. There are over a hundred MMORPG and social sites that offer this opportunity.

Every generation is different, and the Internet is a jack-of-all-trades. Campaign strategists need to utilize all three to seal the generation gap. You never know who is reading your material.

On May 8, 2010, 88 year-old Betty White became the oldest person to host Saturday Night Live. The show had its highest ratings since Ben Affleck hosted it in November 2008. But, it wasn’t her or her agent’s idea.

It was the triumphant effort of half a million Facebook fans of the grassroots campaign called “Betty White to Host SNL (Please!).” Millenials, Baby Boomers, Matures (and more) were all joining this Facebook group. Within 3 months, the number approached 500,000. On March 11, 2010, Betty White made the announcement she would host SNL.

Has this phenomenon changed Internet Campaigns as we know it? Are Internet Campaigns branching out to other generations than the Millenials? More importantly, has it “Sealed the Generation Gap?”