A new Pew data memo found that nearly one in five online adults (19 percent) ages 18 to 24 have used Twitter and similar programs.
A new Pew data memo found that nearly one in five online adults (19 percent) ages 18 to 24 have used Twitter and similar programs. What does that mean for politicians?Another important numbers shows that 27 percent of bloggers use services like Twitter, as well. That’s more of a reason for politicians to get on board. Blogs, often partisan, have larger audiences than the original “tweet.” That means the bloggers who read the tweet can amplify a politician’s message to a wider audience. And while urbanites often lean left, the GOP is looking to expand its base to moderates willing to listen. Could Twitter be a part of the answer? President Obama tweeted throughout his campaign to gain support and gather political momentum. Obama has started do what we would expect from any tech-savvy, Blackberry-addicted president: take his message directly to the people, using Twitter as one vehicle.Like all media, though, Twitter has its shortcoming. Use of Twitter and similar services drops off precipitously after age 35—though that non-“Tweeting” generation is perhaps less in need of the around-the-clock messages from politicians. They tend to be the most informed and go to the polls more often already.More confusing may be what exactly to do with Twitter. Short, curt notes to those with whom you “tweet” are the norm. Editorsweblog.org remarked that it’s the personal comments that can have the biggest impact, like when Sen. Claire McCaskill broke news Tweeting about Sen. Ted Kennedy’s convulsions at a luncheon after Obama’s Inauguration. But messages are becoming more complicated, and some tweet to get help (as Lance Armstrong showed Monday) or gather support. Most dangerous may be the “stream-of-consciousness” encouraged by Twitter (most users are mobile, tweeting on the run from a Blackberry or iPhone, according to the report). Rep. Peter Hoekstra found out the hard way that not everything is fit to tweet. So did Jeff Frederick, the leader of Virginia’s Republican Party.Jeremy Borden is a journalist and freelance writer living in Arlington, Virginia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.