It was called the “Facebook Election” when Obama won nearly 70 percent of the vote among Americans under age 25 reaching them through Facebook. Essentially, Obama won on the wave of youth support, using Facebook.
Obama understood the electoral power of the web. His campaign team not only used Facebook and YouTube but also MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Digg, BlackPlanet, LinkedIn, AsianAve, MiGente, Glee, and others.
Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are radically changing the American political theater, helping the politician to stay directly connected with the voters.
If you give the key word “Cheryll Woods-Flowers” in Twitter and Facebook search, you will see how this former mayor of Mount Pleasant uses these networks to get instant information and stay engaged in the South Carolina’s political circles. She emphasizes that there is no better way than social networking sites.
Dave Wilson, who runs the Columbia-based networking site www.conservative.sc , said in a newspaper that South Carolina lawmakers use Twitter and Facebook to update voters with live news from the chamber floors. Wilson also informed when Democrats earlier this year stalled the legislation on voter IDs , Conservatives got word online and statehouse phone lines.
Another politician who stands out in the realm of social media-based political campaign is Senator Larry Grooms, the Bonneau Republican. He is one of the state’s most active South Carolina lawmakers using the social media. He has about 2,300 followers on Twitter and about 5,000 friends on Facebook.
According to a Wired.com analysis, 65 percent of the gubernatorial candidates with a bigger Twitter following won the chief executive’s post in their respective states. Almost 20 of the 34 gubernatorial candidates with the most fans, or likes, won the chief-executive spot.
In the Golden State, Attorney General Jerry Brown trounced Republican rival Meg Whitman. The Democrat had about 98,000 Facebook fans, less than half Whitman’s almost 208,000. But on Twitter, Brown had 1.1 million followers, compared to Whitman’s more than 242,000.
On the other hand, Incumbent Republican Sean Parnell, who won, had 565 Facebook fans, about half as many as Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz. On Twitter, Parnell had 288 followers compared to Berkowitz’s 56.
Finally, Republican Rick Scott won Florida’s race with 1,800 Twitter followers, fewer than his opponent Alex Sink. Scott, however, had 55,477 Facebook fans compared to Sink’s 30,000.
Apart from social networking sites, US politician are also spending more on online technology to reach voters.
Republican Robert F. McDonnell last year spent $150,000 to buy the latest texting technology during the campaign for governor’s office in Virginia.
This year, Whitman spent at least $100 million on online campaign, more than Brown did.
Ironically, the social site itself is not unaware of its suddenly-found powerful role in American politics . During the presidential campaign, Facebook launched its own forum to encourage online debates about political issues. During the US election, the site featured an online vote counter, which appeared at the top of the user’s feed and allowed him or her to click to say they voted, which earns them “I voted” badge that they can use for a profile picture.
After social sites, now all eyes are on apps for the iPhone, another campaign medium, though it might mean a mountain in terms of electoral spending for the politicians.