Is this the first Snapchat election? This was the question comedian Stephen Colbert asked Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegal just one month ago on The Late Show, just days after the second Republican Primary Debate, in which more 18-24 year olds watched via Snapchat than television.
Snapchat is a video messaging application where users can take photos, record 10 second videos, add text and drawings, and send out to a controlled list of recipients.
To many, Snapchat is revolutionizing the way millennials are following and learning about the American political realm.
Snapchat users are able to watch “Live Snaps” which are a collection of videos and pictures uploaded by people who are attending an event. There have been “Live Snaps” for every primary debate so far, both Republican and Democratic, and many of the presidential candidates have snapchat accounts, including Carly Florina, Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders.
Both the debate “Live Snaps” and many presidential candidates’ Snapchats have allowed millennials to keep up with the presidential campaign in a very unique way from their mobile devices.
“[Snapchat] not only helps politicians reach their constituents but it helps people learn about politics in a way that goes beyond just knowledge, like reading about it or even hearing from a singular newscaster,” Spiegal told Colbert.
This has effected millennials greatly because they are the ones who use it the most. According to comScore, an American Internet analytics company, 45 percent of Snapchat’s users are 18-24 years old. Snapchat has allowed these millennials, who usually do not follow politics, the opportunity to be in touch with what is happening in the 2016 presidential election. With minimal effort, this newfound connection has allowed millennials to get a closer perspective on what is happening in the American political realm and is changing the campaign trail.
“Candidates know that young voters will choose comfort over discovery so I do imagine that more candidates will use Snapchat as a way to persuade young voters,” says Rose Hogmire ’18, a politics and government major and avid Snapchat user.
Hogmire believes that Snapchat is making a change in the fact that young people are for once showing interest in the campaign cycle.
But “Live Snaps” do not allow a person to get a whole perspective of what is going on, which could be a negative. “To be involved, to me, is going out of your way to find who you feel is honest and best equipped to lead,” explains Hogmire.
Other students disagree and believe Snapchat is a great starting point for learning who is running.
“The youth can base their opinions on the candidates by what they see in Snapchat stories and then doing research later on who that candidate actually is,” says Zach Carlson ’19. Snapchat is the gateway to a person getting a whole perspective of this presidential election, argues Carlson.