This is part four of a four-part series on empirical reasons why Democratic incumbent Barack Obama won the presidential election over Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Part one dealt with Obama’s dominance with swing states. Part two dealt with Obama’s dominance of demographics and minorities. Part three dealt with Obama’s dominance of the women vote.
Politics made a transforming shift to an Internet and social media focus in the 2012 elections.
Ads were featured all over the Internet, particularly on YouTube, on blogs and news sites and seemingly everywhere else.
Both camps took to the emerging social media outlets to engage their voting bases, target certain demographics and persuade undecided Americans.
The content and effectiveness of each political party and candidates can and has been debated by countless media and blogging outlets. But for this four-part series, we’re not looking at policy and effectiveness. Instead, we’re focusing in on the raw numbers and trying to explain the empirical reasons why Obama won.
Unquestionably, Obama’s campaign and his supporters better utilized social media and an Internet presence to influence his re-election efforts.
Nearly twenty years ago, the Internet limited many candidates for an online presence. Take a look at Bob Dole’s campaign website from the 1996 presidential election against Bill Clinton.
These days, candidates have many options and websites to utilize. Several have taken off in terms of commercial and user popularity since even just the 2008 elections.
Comparing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s websites is difficult at this point, because the latter’s entire site has become defaulted to a “thank you” page for the campaign.
So for this post, let’s focus on Facebook and Twitter.
Since the election, it’s been widely reported that Mitt Romney’s Facebook and Twitter pages have lost an enormous amount of followers and “likes.”
As of two days after the presidential election on Thursday, Nov. 8, here were the two candidates’ total number of friends and likes:
Barack Obama – Twitter (23 million followers), Facebook (33 million friends)
Mitt Romney – Twitter (1.8 million followers), Facebook (12 million friends)
So it’s clear off the bat that Obama’s online support and presence is greater than Romney’s on a general level.
One could project that this does not necessarily mean greater support; young voters tended to favor Obama more than Romney, and an argument could be made that more young people utilize more social media outlets than older, more Romney-focused voters.
But the fact remains that Obama reached out to more supporters and potential voters than Romney did.
As we saw with a previous installment of this series, Obama dominated the minority and demographic vote. Looking deeper at Obama’s targeting of these demographics, we see his Internet presence among these groups was crucial as well.
The Obama campaign itself had various Twitter and Facebook accounts as part of a network of social media.
Besides Barack and first lady Michele Obama both having their own Twitter accounts, as well as Vice President Joe Biden having a Twitter account, there were multiple others with this team:
There was an account for Obama 2012 campaign updates and news.
Another account, part of Obama campaign’s “Truth Team,” posted updates of facts and data which would give the “truth” of the election.
Students for Obama? Check.
Women for Obama? A Facebook page with 1.3 million likes.
A Latino account, featuring Spanish-language pro-Obama tweets? Si.
And Veterans for Obama, too.
Such pages dealt with demographics and groups. How about geography?
Obama for America, a grassroots organization for his campaign and the Democrat Party, featured Twitter pages for state-specific updates and information. For every single state in the U.S., from Oklahoma to New York, and Ohio too.
This new-age grassroots effort helped propel Obama to victory in states throughout the United States and assisted in engaging voters of all demographics and age-groups. It was an unprecedented digital focus, and unquestionably dominated his opponent’s Internet presence.
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