Spinning the Youthquake


MTV pumped more money into the “Choose or Lose: 20 Million Loud” campaign to mobilize 18- to 30-year-olds to vote than in any other election year. The network produced more original PSAs and documentaries for this election than ever before. MTV pronounced itself thrilled with the youth turnout on Election Day.

Political observers were a tad less impressed, saying that 2004 proved once again the wisdom of the political maxim that, if you pin your hopes on young voters, they'll break your heart. MTV might want to quiz the dazed Kerry campaign refugees about how pleased they are with the fact that voters 18-24 had the same representation at the polls—less than one in 10 voters—as in 2000. But the network would rather focus on the fact that the total number of voters, in the larger 18-30 demo, jumped from 18 million to 21 million—in an election that saw a surge in voters across the board.

“The rest of the country isn't recognizing that this is a record turnout in this demographic,” says Ian Rowe, VP, MTV Public Affairs and Strategic Partnerships. “We set an ambitious goal and our audience delivered.”

But there's a more burning question here than how effective the network's effort was. And that's: Since when does some 30-year-old guy with two kids qualify as a “youth”?