It was great to share information with you all on issues concerning the 2012 Republican Primaries. Pearl Steinberg discussed the candidates’ Twitter accounts, Ryan Feeney highlighted their Facebook pages, Larissa Coyne analyzed their websites, and Janel Forsythe talked about campaign finanncing. This video combines all these issues into one final post in which the bloggers discuss the entire project. Thanks for watching, and please remember to stay informed about the 2012 Presidential Election!!
Pearl Steinberg, Ryan Feeney, Janel Forsythe, and Larissa Coyne
In my previous posts for 2012 Republican Primaries blog, the majority of my topics focused on Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum. Both of these candidates maintain active Facebooks, and gain the most media attention throughout this year’s primaries. One candidate that has been overlooked is Ron Paul. Now behind Mitt Romney 865 delegates to 93 delegates, many are questioning why he is still in the race. Is it the money? Is it to continue to get the word out about his movement?
According to Luke Broadwater of The Baltimore Sun, the youth vote is generally down across the country. However, one candidate that has received a lot of youth attention is 76-year-old Ron Paul from Texas. At Mr. Paul’s rallies, his audience consists of mainly people under the age of thirty. This may be due to Ron Paul’s views that are much different other Republican candidates. He opposes most foreign wars, he advocates for severe cuts to federal budgets, and believes that drugs should be decriminalized federally. He also feels that the government has no role in keeping gay people from marrying, and he opposes any plans to institute a national ID card for immigration reform. It may be these standpoints of Paul’s that attracts the young crowd.
“In Iowa, 48 percent of the under-30-caucus-goers went for Paul, compared with 23 percent for former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and 14 percent for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In New Hampshire, Paul garnered 47 percent of the youth vote, compared with 26 for Romney,” explains Broadwater. Where Ron Paul’s following may lack size, it does not lack passion. Brad Knickerbocker of CSmonitor discusses the passion of Ron Paul’s followers, “they are the most passionate and most frustrated of any voters heading to the polls, and many of them are independents.” The following is attracted to Ron Paul’s ideas for freedom, and the truth he speaks. Many feel as though he is the only candidate speaking about anything believable.
Ron Paul campaign has made an effort to reach out to young people and motivate them, as well as motivate them to encourage others to cast ballots for Paul. His efforts are beginning to make a difference, Ron Paul won Maine and Nevada Sunday May 7th, 2012. Ron Paul’s Army’s efforts are beginning to translate into more success, but not translating to Facebook action.
On Facebook, Mitt Romney has 1,683,211 likes, and Facebook’s tally of who is talking about him is 145,888. On the other hand, Ron Paul’s Facebook has only 952,244 likes and 33,123 talking about the candidate. With Ron Paul having such young followers and support, one would think that his Facebook would have the most “likes” and be the most popular since it is generally assumed that younger generations dominate social media. However, according to PEW research center, “adult profile owners under thirty and those thirty and older are equally likely to maintain a profile on Facebook (71% of young profile owners do so, compared with 75% of older profile owners).”
If not Facebook, where is Ron Paul gaining his support from these young audiences? It appears that his views on freedom and enthusiasm of him and his followers are contributing to his success. He is on a roll, and it will be interesting to see where he is headed.
Ron Paul has raised less money than Obama, Romney, and Gingrich. Ron Paul has not won a single primary. Ron Paul wants America to return to the Gold Standard and abolish the Federal Reserve entirely (as he explains in his book, “End the Fed,” which is the inspiration for my title). Gold sells for more than 1,000 dollars an ounce. Imagine how much it would cost to buy some milk and a loaf of bread on the Gold Standard! Ron Paul’s economic and social policies are unattainable. His candidacy, at this point, serves to promote his message more than it aims to ensure his “electability.” Moreover, Ron Paul does not stand a chance of becoming the next president of the United States. Why then, in a race that was originally between nine GOP candidates, is Ron Paul among the final three?
First of all, Ron Paul has focused more heavily on the use of social media during his 2012 campaign than he did during the 2008 elections. The number of delegates he has gained has more than doubled (from 4% to 10%) since his 2008 race for president. In the past two days, for example he has tweeted five times compared to Romney’s two. However, a candidate’s popularity within the social media world is not necessarily always indicative of his popularity in the presidential race. According to the article “Slanted Objectivity,” American voters, and people in general, have a tendency to believe what they see in the media is a reflection of how the world actually is. So, if Ron Paul happens to appear on television and various social media outlets more often than Mitt Romney, voters will assume he is doing comparably to Romney. Ron Paul tweets and is tweeted about more often than Romney. Nevertheless, Romney has ten times more delegates (847) then Paul (80) and is much closer to winning the election. Therefore, maybe his popularity on social media leads voters to believe he is equally popular within the actual race, and therefore, likely to win.
Some suggest, if not for his improvement in utilizing social media, it’s for the money. According to an article by Capitol Hill Blue columnist Bill Thompson, Ron Paul admits his intentions for remaining in the race are primarily driven for financial reasons, “(if you drop out) you don’t get any money, you wind up with debt, and you don’t’ get those crowds coming out.” A key part of this quotation is, “you don’t get those crowds coming out.” This suggests that if the former two situations occur, crowds, though limited as they are, will no longer even bother listening to Ron Paul. Most likely, the people listening to Ron Paul at this point are only those who have an “anything but Romney” attitude, or people who have been opposed to the two-party option all along. He is not likely to attract any more supporters for his cause, or even any listeners willing to hear his message apart from those seeking to make jokes about his candidacy.
Keeping money in mind, Paul is probably having trouble letting go of the third largest fundraising pool among all the candidates (including President Obama). Though Paul has been criticized for his intentions concerning money, it is worthy to discuss how honest Paul has been about his feelings surrounding the issue. His sense of honesty transcends how he communicates with the public—he is well known for being overtly transparent about how he spends the money he has raised. Kim Barker of ProRepublica explains the extent of Ron Paul’s transparent spending, “On Oct. 18, for instance, someone spent $1.09 for office equipment at the Dollar Tree in Baton Rouge. Eight days later, someone else spent $1 at a Salvation Army on Sheep Davis Road in New Hampshire for event supplies.” Many constituents and journalists are not sure what to think of Paul’s meticulous transparency. As most things with Ron Paul, this commitment has become a source of many jokes. However, there is something admirable within this approach that I believe contains an answer to the original question, “why is Ron Paul still in the race?” Though the majority of Americans fit comfortably into the two-party system, Ron Paul’s sense of economic honesty is something all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, can respect.
Arguably, Paul can only afford to be so honest because no one sees him as a threat, and so, no one bothers to attack his candidacy apart from questioning his intentions for remaining in the race. Nevertheless, there is something refreshing about Paul’s intense commitment to a government truly run by the people, for the people. Politicians should, ideally, reveal every detail of how he or she raises and spends money. Most politicians have priorities “greater” than spreading their beliefs and message, such as defending themselves against other politicians who see them as a danger to the American political system, and so, cannot afford to be so painstakingly transparent. Moreover, Ron Paul’s integrity is possible, in large part, because the majority of American Voters see his campaign as “dead.”
My previous posts have served to inform as well as enhance my readers’ understanding of the influence of social media on the Republican candidates for the presidency. My fellow bloggers focused on Facebook, and Twitter as a platform for the candidates to reach their audiences. Social media has undoubtedly become a crucial aspect to any presidential candidate’s campaign, which was shown when Barack Obama was campaigning. He was able to reach more people without physically being present in every single part of the country. What does this tell us? There is strategy involved to becoming president that does not always only have to do with their messages. There is not only strategy involved by using different forms of social media, but also with how they use the social media to effectively present and translate their messages to the public.
While my fellow bloggers discussed Facebook and Twitter, I decided to home in on the Republican candidates’ websites. As you can see from previous posts, I find the websites to be quite telling. The information I have accumulated for these posts have led me more and more toward the conclusion that it is crucial to examine all sides of a story to have a solid opinion, especially when it comes to politics and political messages. There is more strategy and deliberate display of information than one could imagine. Voters should sift through different sources to come to their own conclusions. As much as we don’t want to believe it, the way in which messages are presented is very deliberate.
With this in mind, let us begin to unpack why this issue is important. According to a Fox News article, “Seven in 10 voters say they are either “extremely” or “very” interested in the presidential election. Interest among Democrats (70 percent) is at its highest level this year, although it remains a bit lower than enthusiasm among Republicans (75 percent).” This shows that Romney and the other candidates have captured the attention of their target audience, meaning that Obama has some competition. It also means that this issue is undoubtedly important to at least the majority of United States citizens.
So where do the Republican candidates stand? Well, Gingrich has decided to drop out according to both CNN and Fox News, so Romney is as confident as ever. If you click on the link, there is some background on Romney, including information now and the future of his campaign before we discuss his current standing. There is no disputing that Romney is frontrunner to the Republican Candidacy, and is likely to win the candidacy. This is why this post is not going to discuss Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich’s campaigns. With this background, we can discuss Romney’s recent challenges of Obama’s history with the economy, and his concerns for the future if Obama were to continue as president.
Romney, unlike Obama, has been attacking his opponent’s plans for the future of the country. On his website, Romney includes a brief video about why Obama is not fit to be president in terms of the economy. He devotes a section to his own plans for the economy, which he hopes will inspire voters more than Obama’s. He is also including attacks of Obama’s economic plan on his twitter. One example of a Twitter post is “In the Obama economy, half of new college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. Young Americans deserve better.” He is trying to keep a consistent and clean attack on Obama’s plan for the economy. His wording is quite deliberate. Young audiences are more drawn to Twitter, which is most likely why he addressed them specifically on his Twitter. This is why media literacy is crucial when it comes to a campaign. Though a lot of it is harmless strategizing, some of it is not necessarily all that harmless. That is for you to decide.
Back to the idea of the economy, apparently voters are concerned with both Obama’s and Romney’s plans for the economy. According to Fox News, voters are slightly more in favor of Obama when it comes to the economy, but not by much. 36 percent of voters think Obama has a “clear plan” for helping the economy compared to 31percent who think Romney does. Also, the article explains that 75 percent of Republicans like Romney while 87 percent of democrats like Obama. This means that Romney has some competition as well. It is impossible to predict at this point which candidate will become president. If Obama has any edge on Romney, it is not extreme.
What else is important in terms of a candidate’s campaign? In a previous post I discussed the importance of wives on the candidates’ websites. Surprising as it may be, presidents’ wives have an impact on voter’s opinions of the candidates. According to the Fox News article, “Four years ago, 44 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of Mrs. Obama, 29 percent an unfavorable view and 27 percent couldn’t rate her (June 2008).” She had positive reactions, which affects people’s perception of Obama. The article compares Michelle Obama’s reputation to Ann Romney’s, explaining that Ann is still not known by many voters, “39 percent have a favorable opinion of her, while 25 percent have an unfavorable opinion and 36 percent either can’t rate or have never heard of her.” This affects Romney’s campaign, just as many other small things do. It is important to identify patterns, and analyze these patterns to find out why they exist.
Actually, it was surprising to me to find that Ann Romney was not as well-known as Michelle Obama. She introduces Mitt Romney often, and connects to the public because she has multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. She discusses her struggles fairly openly, and shows that she is interested in helping others. It brings up the question: why did Michelle Obama gain more popularity at the beginning of Barack Obama’s campaign?
It is important to break down and interpret these smaller ideas to predict what will happen in the future, and what you care about and believe in. Empower yourself. You can help decide whether it is Romney or Obama who will be better fit to serve as president. Read about their messages from different sources, talk about it with family, neighbors and friends, and when the time comes, vote. You can make a difference in your country.
Legislators and Watchdog Groups Aim to Expose Unknown Donors
By Janel Forsythe
Citizens United v. FEC (2010) ignited countless debates on campaign finance reform since it was decided two years ago. In my last four posts, I provided an in-depth background of Citizens United, discussed other online bloggers’ reactions to it, spotlighted the top Super PAC donors, and highlighted a diagram which outlined Super PAC spending. Although all of this information was easily found on the Internet, some critics say many aspects of Super PACs are downright secretive. For instance, American Crossroads – the Super PAC that supports the GOP – received 62 percent of its funding from undisclosed sources. In addition, many of the online reports discussing the top Super PAC donors say nothing about all any donors. In response, some political leaders and citizen advocacy groups want to roll back the secretive aspects of Super PACs through legislation and online awareness.
Senate Democrats created the DISCLOSE Act 2.0 in March to reverse the role of Super PACs in campaign financing. In February, Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-M.D.) passed a similar bill in the House which added a protection for shareholders and a disclosure requirement for lobbyists. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said this bill would be like a watchdog for Super PACs because he saw them as a political “spectacle” detracting attention from voters’ concerns. Much of their money is used to create negative ads, so the DISCLOSE Act would require these groups to file an FEC report on each expenditures exceeding $10,000 within 24 hours after airtime; Super PAC leaders would also have to include an “I approve this message” statement to their ads. Senate Democrats said those measures were necessary because these groups can leave much of their financial information a secret. While all their finances have to be reported to the FEC, some receive money from non-profit groups who can keep their original donors anonymous. Therefore, Democrats argued that DISCLOSE Act 2.0 would ensure that Super PACs would be more transparent and accountable to those receiving their political messages.
Nevertheless, DISCLOSE Act 2.0 faced serious opposition from many sides. Many Republican leaders see it as a way to increase Democrat incumbency and limit the Freedom of Speech rights for corporations the Supreme Court aimed to protect. Chamber spokeswoman Blair Latoff expressed that concern because she the bill as partisan-based and a detractor from issues like America’s debt. In turn, Democrats only gained 59 votes for a similar bill that failed to pass in 2010. Only 34 Senate Democrats support the current Act that has no Republican support. In addition, the broadcasting industry was also wary of another government proposal which that would require them to post political ad information online. The FCC voted to support the measure today, but the National Association of Broadcasters saw this as a move to reduce their profits from these ads. Advertisers provide broadcasters with substantial financial support to keep the airwaves running, so exposing all their information to the public could detract marketers from using broadcasting outlets. However, ProPublica reported that the FCC’s vote would not make political ad information easily searchable on their online website; the data compiled would be in a complicated format many average citizens would have difficulty reading. On the other hand, Dunia Shive of Belo Corp. said she plans to fight the recent disclosure requirement in the near future. Disclosure-based legislation has clearly been a battleground for partisan support and opposition, but some citizens groups see these laws as essential in the current age.
Many activist groups have appealed to both the government and other citizens for the disclosure of secret campaign donors. In mid-March, nine government watchdog groups requested each presidential candidate to reveal the names of bundlers who gave over $2,500 to their campaign. They did this in lieu of Sunshine Week, which was a seven-day affair of discourse about governmental transparency between March 11 and 17 of this year. Although President Obama was the only candidate to disclose such information, many of these groups have turned to the public to get involved in their disclosure campaigns online. Through the utilization of social media websites, these groups offer updated information about campaign finance news and reform measures for the public.
My fellow bloggers – Ryan, Pearl, and Larissa – have all cite how candidates use social media to attract voters in their respective posts. Citizen watchdog groups like Public Campaign, the Center for Responsive Politics, and the Sunlight Foundation do the same because they all have social networking websites and personal webpages for their interests. Public Campaign wants “Clean Money and Clean Elections”, so they blog daily on campaign finance news; their “Take Action” link allows voters to join their mailing list and sign a petition to tell supercommittees to keep voters at the forefront of politicians’ concerns. The Center for Responsive Politics runs OpenSecrets.org, so they offer a lot of data with intricate details on campaign spending; their “Action Center” page has a host of issues concerning transparency that the public can read about and take part in. Meanwhile, the Sunlight Foundation’s “Organizing” page has a movie trailer called, “1021 Days Later”, which criticizes the Citizens United ruling and suggests that voters read their Super-PAC Act underneath. The group’s goal is to “Make Government Transparent and Accountable”, so their bill would ensure that all Super PAC information would be made available to the public. In addition, people can also read more information about Super PACs on their website and play a matching game to see which one backs a particular candidate. All these watchdog groups obviously see new media as a way to mobilize voters, so it will be interesting to see if Congress and the House get enough support both in and out of Washington to pass DISCLOSE Act 2.0.
I think it is important for the public to know who is funding support of our politicians because they provide us with the advertisements we see daily on television. However, knowledge of these donors is not enough because many people are unaware of how elections and political discourse typically function within our society. It is so easy to watch an attention-grabbing 30-second clip, but taking the time to learn how and why certain groups run key institutions takes more time and effort to understand such information. Super PAC disclosure is one step, but we all have a role to play in terms of seeking fair election campaigns. It was interesting, challenging, and surprising to learn so much information on campaign financing and share it with all you readers, but I hope that you all take it upon yourselves to seek campaign finance reform. I leave you with the song, “For the Love of Money”, by the O’Jays band. It describes how much of what we do is centered on money, which is something we should all think about and perhaps change both socially and politically.
Two sources have told CNN that Newt Gingrich plans to drop out of the GOP race and formally endorse Mitt Romney next Tuesday. He hasn’t been doing well in the primaries, and his campaign was laden with personal scandals. Gingrich said he’s planning to help the GOP win both the Senate and House and have Mitt Romney elected as the next president. Stayed tuned on future updates.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Romney has been having serious trouble reaching women voters. Their polls show a 12-point deficit with the female voters in comparison to President Barack Obama. More specifically, his deficit lies in the single women category. Romney is behind Obama in polls for single women, 28% to 64%. This deficit is due to Mitt Romney’s inability to meet the needs of everyday people. His attacks on planned parenthood and other important health care services, as well as his threats to cut funding on these resources, have set Romney back from Barack Obama. His words and actions on these issues have shown consequences in the polls. Pew Research Center for the People and the press released results in early April showing that in females aged 18-49, President Obama leads 56% to 38%.
These important numbers have been popping up in various news articles and stories, comparing President Obama’s success with American women as opposed to Mitt Romney. The social issues around planned parenthood and women is something that has really taken the focus of the 2012 campaigns. However, as Huffington Post writer Jocelyn Noveck puts it, “the political Mommy Wars seem to have given way this week, at least temporarily, to the Doggy Wars, with an effort by supporters of both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama to gain points with the Doggy Vote. That’s dog owners, not the dogs themselves- at least for now.”
The commotion began due to Romney’s road trip from Boston to Canada where the Romney family strapped their Irish Setter, Seamus, to the top of the family car in a crate. After developing gastric distress, the car and dog were hosed down and then placed back on top of the car. The story was found out five years ago and has been used against Romney ever since as an example of how cold he is.
The issue has taken over in the Facebook world. There is a Facebook page, Dogs Against Romney with over 51,000 likes. The “about me” section on Facebook reads, “IMPORTANT: Dogs Against Romney is not “FOR” any candidate. We are “AGAINST” Mitt Romney because he is mean to dogs. We want a president who is nice to dogs. That is all EVERYONE who shares our desire that Mitt Romney NOT be president is welcome here. HOWEVER I ask that you keep promotion of your preferred candidates to yourself. Thank you very much.” It goes on later to say explain, “Hi, I’m Rusty. I am afraid of high speeds. In fact, high speeds scare the crap out of me. My owner is helping me get the word out against Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is mean to dogs. He scares us. Help me get my message out.” The page was created by social media consultant Scott Crider.
A slightly less popular but still successful Facebook page with over 15,000 likes, is a page created by Obama campaign staffers: “Pet Lovers for Obama.” The page states, “This page is dedicated to showcasing the Obama 2012 spirit of our favorite animals and those of us who love them. While this page is run by the Obama 2012 campaign staff, our honorary host is Bo Obama, First Dog.” [Bo is featured below with Mr. Obama]
The issue was most recently revisited when Diane Sawyer on ABC asked Mitt and Ann Romney about the incident. In response, Ann explained, “He had the runs.” After the interview, it was brought up that in Obama’s “Dreams From My Father,” he mentions being given dog meat in Indonesia as a child. Social Media participants, particularly the Obama opponents, took this and ran with it. For example, John McCain tweeted a photo of his dog stating, “I’m sorry Mr. President, he is not on the menu.”
Aside from that pathetic attempt to turn the dog lovers against President Obama instead of Mitt Romney, there are many issues I have with the progression of these dog problems. First, Mr. Romney travelling twelve hours with his dog on the roof of his car is sickening and proves everything that I ever thought about him. However, this family vacation took place in 1983 and he has been receiving criticism for it ever since. At this point in the presidential campaign, with the country in the economic state that we are in, why is the media giving an issue that occurred 29 years ago this amount of attention?
Additionally, if the media truly cares this much about animal rights and animal abuse, there are way more issues in the United States involving animal rights that do not receive as much publicity as Mitt Romney’s vacation or Obama’s meal in his childhood. The president of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Ingrid Newkirk, agrees, “As an individual, it irritates me when there is any talk of anything that doesn’t settle on the core issues. And if we want to talk about treatment of animals in this country there are far more serious issues to talk about.”
All in all, the phase of articles using dog puns and tweets/Facbeook posts about eating dog need to stop because they are doggone pawful (no?). Media, especially social media, needs to use its ability to reach millions of people for more important topics of conversation throughout the campaigns. Hopefully people will stop barkin’ about it, and start focusing on the issues that matter.
Santorum recently announced that he was suspending his campaign. On his website, he addressed this in an article entitled A Message from Rick and Karen: Thank You. Santorum discusses his recently born daughter Bella, who has pneumonia, and thanks voters for their help and support. The article explains that the campaign is in debt, which is pointed as the main reason his campaign is not continuing. Santorum wants the campaign to continue, but cannot at this point. He is still reaching out to voters for support in donations. According to The New York Times article Santorum Offers his Plans, but First, a Debt, he was more than $900,000 in debt in February, and he has not yet revealed how much debt has piled on since then.
Now that Santorum has dropped out as a Republican candidate for the presidency, Romney is acting as though he has already gotten the delegates he needs. There is a reason he is acting this way. There is a link to the delegate tally in my last post. Currently, Romney has 684 delegates, Gingrich has 136, and Ron Paul has 60. Romney has a significant lead over the other candidates.
Though Romney has 684 out of the 1,144 needed to win the Republican nomination, he is far ahead of his competition. He is mentioned a lot on social media sites such as twitter, and is mentioned a lot by the media as well. Obama gets more media mentions because he is already president. Romney is mentioned even more than Obama on twitter, which is important to his campaign. Pearl has been covering the content of the nominees’ twitter messages, and how what has impacted their campaigns. Now that Santorum has suspended his campaign, Romney definitely has the spotlight, and has motivation to act as if he has won the nomination already.
Now that he has confidence that he has gained enough speed to be the republican candidate, Romney is focusing more on attacking Obama.
An episode of Saturday Night Live discusses Romney’s strategy to attack Obama. Romney has been criticizing Obama, especially in terms of economics. He is doing this for many reasons. One is that Romney wants to win, and in order to do so, he wants to point out flaws in his opposition. Also, he wants to challenge Obama to show that though he has been confronted about his views possibly being too liberal, that he is conservative enough for republican voters. To tie these ideas together, republican voters would not vote for a president who they do not find able to improve the economy. According to an article on the msnbc website, Romney gave a speech about what Obama will and will not say in his acceptance speech if elected. In his speech, Romney said “What you won’t hear at that convention is that for the last 38 months, unemployment has been above 8 percent, that we’ve had 24 million Americans that are out of work, stopped looking for work, or underemployed.” He argued that Obama has not been improving the economy. Romney is focusing on how he will turn around the economy. He has Moms Drive the Economy bumper stickers. He also has a section called Jobs and Economic Growth, which discusses his general plans for jobs and the economy, and then has sections for the economy and jobs in terms of taxes, spending, energy, regulation, labor, human capital and trade. The tax section includes a section called “what’s at stake,” “Obama’s failure,” and “Mitt’s Plan.” This section shows that he is specifically pinpointing Obama as an opponent. He is not attacking Paul, Gingrich or Santorum, but Obama instead.
Romney is not only attacking Obama, but attempting to spread word of his message as much as he can. He is doing so on his website and other forms of social media. He is also, trying to visit as many groups of people as possible. Philip Rucker from The Washington Post explains in his article entitled Romney tries to ‘bracket’ Obama, plans ‘prebuttal’ speech in Charlotte that Romney is attempting to follow the strategy that “to beat a sitting president, you first have to chase him around the country.” In fact, Romney is made fun of in an episode of Saturday Night Live, for attempting to gain support from groups all over the country that he is not really on the same page with. This relates to my last blog post, which discusses whether candidates are connecting with the public. Saturday Night Live appears to be implying, as my interviewee in my last post did, that Romney is not connecting with the public as well as he could be.
If Santorum has taught us one thing it is that anything can happen in times like these. Santorum was gaining a lot of speed after having little support at the beginning of his campaign, and seemed to have the best chance at beating Romney as the “conservative alternative”. Even after making multiple mistakes such as insulting the speech about the separation of church and state. He had even been gaining speed with social media sites, as Ryan explains in her last article Last Facebook Words from Santorum, Who Will Take Over Dominating Social Media? If all that wasn’t surprising enough, he recently dropped out after all of this progress. So, anything is possible. Now I will discuss the other candidates, and their chances of catching up.
So what will it take for Gingrich to gain more speed? He is fairly active on twitter and has the least amount of twitter mentions out of all the candidates. He will also need to attract more media attention. Though he is ahead of Ron Paul, he still needs to step up his game. He might serve as a replacement for Santorum as a more conservative option, but he has been inconsistent. He certainly is trying to appear as the conservative alternative, advertising himself as the “the last conservative standing.” He has also not been able to connect with voters like Romney and Santorum. Only time will tell whether Gingrich can climb and challenge Romney to the degree Santorum did. Even Santorum was trailing Romney by a significant amount with 262 delegates, which was less than half of what was needed to match Romney.
What would it take for Ron Paul to catch up? In my honest opinion, it would take a lot. He has a little over 11 percent the amount of delegates Romney has, and less than half the amount Gingrich has.
In conclusion, I believe Romney has a very good chance of winning the candidacy, but there is still ability for some turnaround in Gingrich’s campaign.
Since some of our readers asked us questions in regards to social media, politics, and campaign financing, we decided to answer them in a vlog (video blog) post. We also used this opportunity to ask each other questions about our individual specialties in order to gain a more well-rounded understanding of the 2012 republican primary race. Hope you enjoy! If any more questions arise, please feel free to leave a comment and we will respond shortly thereafter!
In the past few months, Rick Santorum has dominated social media sites. As my last blog post alluded to, MSNBC has covered his rise of mentions on Twitter and posts on Facebook. Nearly 41% of all social networking messages expressing an opinion about a Republican candidate have been about Rick Santorum since his race began picking up on February 7th, after three wins in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. (The chart below demonstrates Santorum’s increase in popularity on social media sites. From MSNBC’s “Rick Santorum leads rivals in Twitter, Facebook buzz, new analysis shows”) However, as of Tuesday April 10th, Rick Santorum has given up his “against all odds” campaign and dropped out of the race and cleared the way for Mitt Romney. Looking ahead, Santorum was facing a loss in the April 24th primary in Pennsylvania, a state where he represented in Congress for 16 years. The Romney campaign had planned almost 3 million dollars in ads against him. However, the most interesting part of Santorum’s popularity on Twitter, Facebook and other sites is that the majority of the attention the candidate received was negative. In fact, 58% of the internet attention Rick Santorum received as of February 7th was negative. As discussed in my last post, one can see that it would certainly not be difficult to construct a tweet or Facebook post that talks about Santorum in a negative way. His actions as well as various quotes make him an easy target for hateful posts.
Rick Santorum announced on his Facebook page the day that he dropped out of the race: “Today I announced that I am suspending my campaign for the President of the United States. This has been one of the hardest decisions Karen and I have ever had to face together. And it has been hard in large measure because of you. I know that my candidacy has offered you a way to fight for your convictions. Together, we have fought for the principles that this country was founded on; that made this country great. Without fighting for them, this country cannot continue to be great. <enter> I thank you for your support, and urge you to continue this fight. God bless you, and please keep us in your prayers. And know that we keep you in ours.” This post generated 1,367 shares, 10,092 likes and 9,152 comments. The comments that it received were a wide range of praise and pure hatred. For example, one person posted three comments, “Yea, cause we didn’t see this coming. #notshockingnews,” “and you can keep your prayers,” “and for the rest of you, here’s a SPOILER ALERT: there is no God.” However, other Facebook users posted things along the lines of, “Dear Mr. Santorum, Thank you for being the voice of reason, the voice of truth, justice and honor. Thank you and your family for bravely and valiantly address issues that many many Americans absolutely believe. It is almost as if we are held captive in our country, as if our mouths are muzzled and as we look throughout this country and see our laws being manipulated in ways to promote evil or how the the mirage of images set before us are of false context. Thank you Rick for reminding America of who we are and whom we are founded upon,UNDER GOD, INDIVISBLE FOR LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.” Rick Santorum’s Facebook page has still been posting links to his appearances on Fox News Channel and speaking at the NRA conference in St. Louis.
It is obvious that Rick Santorum controlled social media for the past few months. However, now that Santorum is out of the race, who will take over the dominate position on the internet? One article by Sujan Patel, Newt Gingrich utilizing Twitter and has the highest number of engagers across the network with 1.38 million followers. He tweets often but provides good content for what his followers are expecting. The number of tweets and amount of engagement on social networking profiles shows that Gingrich has a great approach to social media. Will his excellence on social media in combination with the same general mocking that Santorum received be enough buzz to put Gingrich in a dominate position in the social media world? Will his stance on being the “last stand for conservatives” put him where Santorum was?
My thoughts are probably not. Romney’s campaign, as the nj.com articlepoints out, is superior out of all GOP contenders as far as being well funded, organized and professionally run. His campaign is, and has been, focused on defeating President Barack Obama. The match up that is already formed, in addition to the excellent campaign that Mr. Romney is running, will keep Romney with social media dominance.
Santorum’s leaving of the campaign did not change much in the mind of the President and his campaign. He had been expecting this all along. Since the battle between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama is one that was predicted is creating an eight month fight between the two. The fight will be interesting to follow, especially to see the usage of social media sites. President Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign was record breaking for the usage of internet and social media. Mitt Romney will have to learn to pick up the pace.
In addition to President Barack Obama’s previous success as a social media campaign, his campaign this year is projected to be one of the most sophisticated re-election campaigns in history. At the end of February, the president had $84 million in the bank according to Federal Election Commission records. Mitt Romney’s campaign has $7.2 million (one fifth of the paid staff of Obama’s campaign).
The dynamics between President Obama’s multi-million dollar campaign with a history of success during elections via social media, and Mitt Romney’s less well-funded campaign with less social media attention will be interesting to experience. Mitt Romney should take some tips from Newt Gingrich’s approach to social media.