Thursday, July 24, 2008

Young Republicans, Web 2.0 and a Road Trip


 A group of four college Republicans have set off across the USA in a rented Ford Explorer to remind America that not all young people are Barack Obama supporters. 

The quartet, who call their project "Where is the Red," left from Florida in June, and are currently in Ohio. They plan to end their tour in conservative Orange County, California in late August. As they travel, they're doing volunteer work for the Republican Party and broadcasting the trip in Twitter updates, blog posts and a Google Maps application tied to their GPS. Christie Jackson, 22, one of the four young Republicans says, "We're just trying to draw attention to all the young people who are already excited, and who sometimes get ignored by the media." 

Conservative bloggers have been despairing over the enthusiasm gap between supporters of John McCain and those backing Democratic rival Barack Obama. Polling data shows that 60 percent of Democrats under 30 voted for Barack Obama during the primaries, while only 34 percent of Republicans in the same demographic voted for John McCain. 

Sites like Things Younger Than John McCain poke fun at the presumptive Republican nominee's age, and a torrent of anti-McCain videos are flooding YouTube. The Republican road trip - organized by the College Republican National Committee -- is meant to energize McCain's younger supporters. All four of the traveling quartet are blogging, and one of them, Chris Caraballo, a 24-year-old film student at the University of Southern California, is shooting video. 

Joining Caraballo and Jackson on the road are Kerry Donnelly, a 21-year-old Fordham University graduate, and Jeremy Harrell, 22, a University of Miami at Ohio graduate. "One reason we're using the technology that we're using now is to draw attention to the fact that there are new, interesting, relevant, and extremely efficient ways to get information to people," says Jackson, who just graduated from Clemson University. "That's why we're keeping track of our trip ... through our blog and other Web 2.0 tools."

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