This year's election has been like no other.
Rallies have transformed into drive-ins and campaigning live on the internet. Candidates have had to adjust to using new technology and social media platforms in order to reach voters.
Jenna Wadsworth, the Democratic candidate for North Carolina commissioner of agriculture, has done just that. Her growing Instagram and TikTok presences reflect this campaigning shift since the advent of COVID-19.
Wadsworth has over 2,400 followers on TikTok and Instagram and over 5,000 followers on Twitter, which she said has allowed her to reach more young voters in ways that would not otherwise be safe or logistically possible during a pandemic.
“I found that you can reach a whole different group of voters and in a compelling, a more interesting and kind of visually appealing way,” Wadsworth said. “You can really share your story and make people excited about this race.”
The uptick in young voters seems to be the key in elections this season, similar to Obama's 2008 campaign, Suzanne Globetti, a political science professor at UNC, said. Now, there are more platforms targeted at younger audiences.
“People thought that Obama's social media campaign was very successful — they did do very well among young people in 2008,” Globetti said.
Although social media use has significantly increased across all age groups since 2006, 90 percent of young voters ages 18 to 29 have some form of social media, according to data from the Pew Research Center. In contrast, 40 percent of voters above the age of 65 use social media.
Globetti said many candidates have noticed this uptick in social media usage among young voters and are utilizing it to their advantage.