New Role for New Media in 2012

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If 2008 was about drawing people to campaigns' new media presence then 2012 is going to be about establishing real relationships with voters through these media.

 

Now that President Obama, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty have all declared their intentions to run for President in 2012 and rolled out their initial campaign websites, and another leading contender, Sarah Palin, has also unveiled a revamped website for her political operation, SarahPac, it's possible to begin sketching the contours of the 2012 election online. And so far, the inside-the-beltway political media is missing the big story. It's not Facebook. It's the data, stupid.

 

Unlike in 2008, when reporters had to be led by the nose to cover the Internet's emergence as the central battlefield of the campaign, this time around no one needs any convincing. Neither do the campaigns. Compared to past elections, when the Internet was seen primarily as a source of easy-to-get campaign contributions and having a big email list was considered the equivalent of obtaining an online ATM, this time around everyone finally appears to understand that real relationships with voters are what drive volunteer engagement in campaigns, and it's that kind of stake-building that turns people who are casually interested in a candidate into door-knockers and repeat donors.

 

So far, most of the early media coverage of the tech side of 2012 has been emphasizing the value to candidates of using social media like Twitter and making friends on Facebook. If anything, after years of downplaying the power of voter-centered hubs like political blogs and social networks, the mainstream media now seems certain that this cycle's presidential contest will be, at least in part, driven by how well a candidate is doing being social online. But in doing so, they're overstating how much Republicans have supposedly closed the tech gap with the Democrats, glossing over some crucial facts about how big platforms like Facebook actually work, and thus delivering a deceptive picture that obscures some very significant advantages currently held by the Obama campaign.

 

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Photo From: http://www.facebook.com/mittromney