As in the recent 2008 and 2010 elections, social media will have a significant impact on America’s elections for years to come. While we enter into the 2012 Presidential election cycle, social media is gearing up.
Each day, it is not uncommon to hear people frequently saying “someone just tweeted that,” or “I saw that on Facebook,” or something similar about various political topics and goings on.
Not only have American-born social media companies been able to influence the American political theater, but social media has become a prevalent force in global political dialogue. For instance, one in five Canadian’s visit social media sites to research political information.
Just the other day, I received a text message from the Obama campaign notifying me that they were in the beginning stages of the campaign and asked me if I was “in.” I don’t respond to many text messages that are not from my friends and family, so I did not respond to this one. However, the Obama campaign’s point was made: reach people where they are, using social media. The message did not fall on deaf ears. I was an active supporter in Obama’s last election, and I took this message to be the beginning of the rallying cry to gather Obama’s base.
Similarly, Republican candidate Tim Pawlenty announced his campaign’s presidential exploratory committee via Facebook. He was the first candidate to ever announce on a social media networking site.
As another recent example of the power of social media in politics, Mitt Romney attacked the President, tweeting toward Obama: “@barackobama I look forward to hearing details on your jobs plan, as are 14m unemployed Americans.”
Just last week in the Wisconsin State Supreme Court race, Twitter was buzzing with tweets about the state’s election: Prosser this, Kloppenburg that. With to the second updates, twitter users urged readers to go vote and encouraged participation in the political process. On the ground, voter turnout percentages were transmitted to the public frequently as people posted updates about what was going on in local precincts.
As the aura of excitement fills the blogosphere and twitterspace while onlookers refresh the social media sites of their choosing, this second by second, hyper personal online wave of social interactions has come to fuel the political cycle.
Candidates frequently refer potential supporters or inquiring minds to their websites, Facebook or Twitter pages. And now, even our nation’s federal elected officials are learning to use social media to make statements and provide rapid responses to their challengers, supporters and constituents.
Three main developments in political campaigns have increased the reach of political discourse over recent years: television, computers and smart phones. Computers and smartphones have enabled campaigns and political leaders to get their message out quickly at reduced costs. So look for the 2012 election candidates to use lots of new technology as social media platforms continue to grow, develop and catch on in popularity.
I can’t want to see the new analytical outlook for the votes cast in the presidential election. Instead of touch screens, I am sure it will probably go 3D this time around.