<img src="//bat.bing.com/action/0?ti=5065582&amp;Ver=2" height="0" width="0" style="display:none; visibility: hidden;">
Allyson Kapin 6 min read

70% of US College Students Say They Aren’t Politically Engaged

An estimated 70% of US college students say that they don't consider themselves to be politically engaged or politically active, according to a recent study by Knowledge Networks on behalf of Harvard University's Institute of Politics. 33% say online tools such as Facebook, YouTube, blogs and Twitter have greater impact than face-to-face advocacy and 16% said these tools made less of an impact. 

The survey results are filled with interesting data that nonprofits and political campaigns should take into consideration when developing outreach strategies to reach younger demographics.

While 1/3 of survey respondent’s say they prefer online tools for advocacy, 49% say they get their news the old fashion way – major national newspapers. “Regarding various new technologies and social media channels, interest was next greatest in friends who share using Facebook (36%), official campaign Facebook feeds (29%), partisan, political blogging websites (22%), text or mobile alerts (19%), friends who share using Twitter (16%) and official campaign Twitter feeds (16%),” said the report.

More Survey Results You Need to Know From 18-29 Respondents

  •  66% of respondents were registered to vote in the 2008 presidential election. 35% did not vote and 5% said they planned on it, but ended up not voting.
  • 59% voted in the 2008 presidential election.
  • 39% currently identify as liberal, 34% identify as conservative and 10% identify as a Tea Party  supporter. Where was the coffee party question on the survey? :)

In the last 12 months approximately

  • 34% volunteered for community service, while 65% said they did not volunteer in the last 12 months.
  • Only 11% of 18-29 year olds donated money to a political campaign or cause.
  • 8% volunteered for a political candidate or an issue.
  • 29% “Liked” a political issue on Facebook.
  • 24% “Liked” a political candidate.
  • 21% used Facebook to advocate a political position.


Houston We Have A Problem

We have a conflicted generation when it comes to activism and politics. The majority of college students don’t consider themselves politically active and they rarely donate money to campaigns or causes, or volunteer for candidates or issues. If they are interested in volunteering their time, they prefer community service. At the same time, they clearly find it easy to “Like” a cause or candidate on Facebook or and express their views social networks like Facbook or Twitter. But it’s not translating into meaningful activism yet and this group is clealry not being nurtered enough and moving up the ladder of activism.

Interestingly, a majority of the survey respondents did register to vote in the last presidential election and many of them did vote. Was their participation because it was such a historical race to be a part of combined with the fact that so many people and their families were fed up with the Bush administration? How will this all play out in 2012?


Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.