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The Internet, Social Media and Politics

by Martina Wormuth on March 8, 2012

It’s an election year. If someone weren’t to realize this, they would have to be living a very sheltered life. Campaign ads are everywhere. I’m not certain who I’m voting for in the primaries yet. I’m a registered Republican, but truly Independent… in PA, where I live, you have to be registered with one party or the other to vote in the primaries. Anyway, as I’ve been trying to figure out who I want to vote for and why, I’ve noticed that the Internet and social media have become a driving force in political campaigns.

One of the reasons that Barack Obama really jumped ahead four years ago was because of his use of social media compared to McCain’s inability to utilize it effectively. He used Twitter and Facebook to give himself a “face.” This appealed greatly to a generation who enjoyed a majority of their time online.  This was the reason for Obama’s success, going after this very underrepresented age group (18-29 year olds).

One reason that candidate Ron Paul is popular with the same contingency that  Obama reached out to is his use of social media. Much of Paul’s campaign has been based on Facebook and Twitter. The internet has been inundated with Paul’s very successful “Money Bombs” and other campaign fundraising that he has done primarily online.

This past Tuesday was what is called “Super Tuesday.” Ten states  And guess what? Social media ruled the day again! All day you could find updates on Facebook, Twitter, and there was even coverage of the primaries on YouTube. Election updates are everywhere, and you literally cannot get away from them. The Wall Street Journal even reported the results live from YouTube. How cool is that?

As someone who doesn’t have cable (I don’t watch enough TV to warrant the cost), I also appreciated another effort of social media, and that was debate coverage. I can now read transcripts of the debates and even watch livestreams if I desire to. Technology really has made following an election a lot easier than it used to be!

Where do I think this is going? I’m not sure. I know I’d be all about it if I didn’t have to go to a polling place to vote and instead could vote from the comfort of my home. I think a lot of people in the 18-29 age range would actually vote if this option were available, and I really think that the technology is starting to go in that direction. Is this necessarily a good thing? I’m not sure, but it may help balance out the age groups who are voting.

What do you think about social media and the internet being a more pivotal force in elections? Do you really think that’s what helped Obama win against McCain in 2008? Is it even more of a force in the 2012 primaries? What do you think this election will look like because of the internet and social media? Whatever you think, leave some of your thoughts in the comments! Have a great day, and we’ll see you here tomorrow.

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