The youngest eligible voters are, historically, the least likely to vote.
During the 2020 election cycle, only 51.4% of 18-24-year-olds went to the polls, an 11-point increase from the 2016 election. So how do politicians encourage an increase in the vote and connect with a largely underrepresented group of voters?
TikTok, of course.
TikTok is dominated by Gen Z and the people vying for their loyalty know this. According to Wallaroo Media, 60% of TikTok’s more than 1 billion monthly users are members of Generation Z, making it an interesting marketing tool for grabbing the attention of younger generations, and brands are known to experiment with their advertising campaigns. to find the best way to break through (hint: it must be as little ad-like as possible).
Now, some politicians are following suit, jumping on viral trends and doing their best to translate Gen Z humor into their own content in an effort to entice young people to vote and hopefully for them.
These tactics tend to feel organic to young candidates Cristina Haswoodwho used TikTok to help her become one of the youngest representatives in the Kansas state legislature, although even at 25 she felt like she was too old to be on the app when she joined in 2020, as she told the host of the podcast Noel King and the reporter Aviva Okeson-Haberman.
Haswood, with the help of the expertise of a Gen Z high school girl, introduced herself via the “Love Story” trend, which used a remix of that of Taylor Swift hit song and was wildly popular in July of that year. There were several variations, but the essence was that the creators would take note of the camera, push it away so that it expands just before the beat stopped, and then they would dance to the beat. Haswood has instead chosen to do the power walk, sharing the priorities of its campaign in the added text and obtaining over 650 thousand views.
Okeson-Haberman also drew Arizona campaign recorder candidate Gabriella Cazares-Kelly introduction to TikTok. One of the first videos of her sees her driving a scooter along a sidewalk, shouting, “Excuse me, I’m native, I’m on my way!” She remembers the viral “Come on, I’m gay”, Vine. This blunt and factual statement is just the kind of humor Gen Z is obsessed with.
For older politicians, their content is not always being received as expected. Many use the app to connect with their constituents in ways that weren’t previously possible by mixing their personalities across campaign videos, but viewers sometimes find these posts fake or cranky.
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Governor of Wisconsin Tony Evers he stitched a video wondering who the judge was regarding a silly law on the taste of cheese in his state, announcing it was him. It is above and beyond the most viewed video of him, much more than the viral Stranger things meme he participated in to announce the song that would save him from Vecna. (And in the meantime, his rival in the next semester gets along well with educational breaks without worrying at all about what’s popular.) Viewers of Evers have had mixed responses, with some finding fun in antics and others expressing concern. for lost time.
Recently running for Florida Congress Ken Russell sewing musician Skylar Stecker. In the original video, Stecker crouches in a pair of tracksuits and, through a smooth transition, suddenly wears a cropped top and shorts. Russell arrives right at the moment of transition, matching his move and asking if everyone watching is registered to vote for the upcoming primary. In the comments, he called it a “typical political lure and switch”. It was a surprising appearance at the FYP but an undoubtedly creative content idea, and Russell’s commentators seem to be unanimously in love with the idea. “I feel like I’ve been rickrolled about voting and I love it,” wrote one.
The list of representatives entering the viral playing field goes on and on. Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey he once used some sort of roleplaying trend, asking his viewers to make it look like they’re voting in the comments.
Ohio Tim Ryan once used “Bored in the House”, a popular early quarantine sound, to illustrate the roadblocks he was facing Mitch McConnell.
Some viewers also find joy in participating in the most ridiculous trends, especially when the politician does it right. Others roll their eyes at what some perceive as indulging. When it comes to politics, no one will ever be able to please everyone, but even if someone you disagree with is making fun of themselves, at least they’re interested in the future of young voters, and that’s not ridiculous.