Young Voters Look For Authenticity In Presidential Candidates

Newswise — As the 2008 presidential primaries begin to creep their way into newspapers and broadcasts across the country, voter demographics are moving to the forefront of the minds of political analysts. How the youth of America will vote in the upcoming election and what they look for in a potential candidate is a vital question for those advising the candidates.

Diane M. Phillips, Ph.D., chair of marketing at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, thinks that America's youth looks for genuineness in a candidate.

"It's an issue of niche marketing," said Phillips. "Candidates can't be everything to everyone, and young people know this. Young people favor authentic candidates--those who stick by their beliefs."

Phillips said that Barack Obama is an authentic candidate, citing his unwavering opposition to the Iraq War as an example. "When I look at Obama, I see the most genuine candidate. He's been against the Iraq War from the beginning," she said.

According to Phillips, a slick advertising campaign won't attract the youth vote, because most of the members of the demographic aren't watching prime-time TV. Instead, they are getting most of their information from the Internet or television shows such as "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."

"Young people are very cynical of marketing ploys," said Phillips. "They see through a lot of prime-time advertisements and attacks."

Most college-age voters look for candidates with whom they can relate. "They want to be able to say, 'Here's someone that gets me,'" she said.

Phillips added that the race or gender of potential candidates is not as critical among young voters as some would suspect. "Many people are asking if America is ready for an African American or a woman president. Young voters are saying, 'Well, why not?'"