November 2, 2007

Political Debate the American Way

While we often discuss our opinions on political debate within our Dissident Media class, I thought it would be interesting to see what other American University students felt about the upcoming election, political debate, and blogging as a political outlet.

I surveyed thirty students, slightly more girls than boys, which coincides with the ratio at American University. The age range was 18-21, all citizens of age to vote. All of these students had watched a presidential debate on television before, while only eleven follow these debates moderately or closely. Even so, results and news stories that result from these debates greatly affect students; only six people said the presidential debates have absolutely no influence on their ballot in November. The lack of interest in political debates might have to do with young people's perceptions of politicians; only five students feel the majority of candidates are relatable to the average American and not just acting fake in order to get good publicity for their campaign. Opinions were split exactly down the middle over whether the current format for political debate was too structured. It is possible that these students were not informed enough to answer this question though, seeing as barely any regularly follow presidential debates. The general consensus seems to be, at least within this batch of randomly selected American University Students, that young people just aren’t that emerged in the presidential race. Just sixteen of these students were registered to vote, barely more than half. The main problems seems to be the absence of a candidate that enthralls and inspires America’s youth, the kind of candidate that would make young adults follow the election.

Upon drawing this conclusion, just for interest’s sake, I wanted to see if our blog could have any impact on the political views of these students. However, my findings were dismal. Only eight students had ever visited a political blog before. In fact, a total of only seventeen students had ever browsed through any type of blog on the internet. The top three media outlets these students receive political information from are newspapers, mainstream television news (CNN, Fox), and additional television programs such as The Colbert Report or talk shows. Most students showed little interest when I explained my survey and considerable confusion at a blog as a class assignment.

I am not sure what it takes to get young adults more involved in the political process. We seem to be under ideal circumstances at American University; we live in our nation’s capital that is filled to the brim with internship opportunities and attend a private university with amazing government and international relations programs. If students do not have the time to participate in the election here, I can only imagine how my survey would have gone over at another school.

1 comment:

N. Hanks said...

Interesting blog with some interesting dialogue. Hats off to you! The fact that politics is such a turn-off to most American University students may not be such a bad thing -- afterall, it's a pretty bad scene. And a rather "low" moment in the world. For some independent views, I would suggest you visit Rock The Debates, Talk/Talk on independentvoting.org and my own blog The Hankster.... :-)
Nancy