Authors Speak On Internet’s Power

The co-authors of a book on the interface between internet and politics ascribed a recent national political realignment to the rise of a “Millennial Generation” immersed in on-line, social-networking technologies at an Institute of Politics event yesterday.

Authors Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, together with Kennedy School professor Elaine C. Kamarck, emphasized the centrality of a young generation—born between 1982 and 2003—to the rise of the Democratic party in the 2008 election, and said that the influence of this “Millennial” voting bloc would only continue to grow.

In March 2008, Winograd and Hais published their book “Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics,” which accurately predicted a win for democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama after years of republican domination.

The two authors cited statistics yesterday stating that 80 percent of Obama’s winning margin was composed of youthful “Millennial” voters, whose proficiency with Web-based social-networking sites allowed candidates to mobilize followers while also allowing followers to mobilize each other.

The emphasis on the importance of on-line outreach struck a chord with Jeffery F. Solnet ’12, student chair of the Special Events Committee at the IOP.

“I think the reason we had this event was because the topic of technology is so exciting amongst the number of students here who were involved in the Obama campaign,” said Solnet.

The Obama campaign made a name for itself in the 2008 election for its innovative use of Web tools to catalogue and organize voters.

The large size of the Millennial generation, coupled with the fact that most people who identify a party affiliation early tend to stick with that party, suggests that the generation’s influence is here to stay. The Millennium contingent made up 17 percent of the electorate in the 2008 election, and could potentially account for 24 percent of voters by 2012 and 36 percent by 2020, the authors said.

“I thought students at the IOP would be fascinated to hear about [Winograd and Hais’] book because it’s about you guys,” said Kamarck, the Kennedy professor, after the event, referring to the undergraduates who attended last night’s event.

The event, entitled “Millennial Makeover: How MySpace and YouTube are Transforming American Politics,” was a dual effort by the Harvard Political Union and the Special Events Committee at the IOP.