Today we’re releasing our latest piece titled “Social Politics: The Impact of Social Networking on Political Campaigns.” To download the full piece, click here.
It is now taken for granted that a strong online presence is indispensable for any “serious” political campaign. This now extends beyond a basic campaign website and includes the use of online social networking sites. Both Republicans and Democrats take social media very seriously, and professional consultants have made great sums managing candidates’ use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
President Obama’s election and reelection campaign went to great lengths to effectively use these online resources, and some have attributed this to his great political success. It is said that the Obama campaign was able to successfully use Facebook to overcome the problems associated with reaching young voters in swing states that did not have listed telephone numbers.
The media has touted the internet as a game-changer in American politics. We should be cautious before inferring that the internet was the key to President Obama’s electoral success. After all, if there was a direct, linear relationship between online enthusiasm and votes in the real world, Ron Paul would likely be in the White House.
Like media commentators, professional political scientists have also taken a great interest in social media, and for several years have attempted to discern precisely how social media impacts American politics. There is suspicion among some scholars and commentators that internet activism, derisively called “slacktivism,” does not translate into any real-world significance…