Strategic Use and Impact of Social Media in the 2012 Elections Essay

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Strategic Use and Impact of Social Media in the 2012 Elections

The goal of the research is to find evidence of the use and impact of social media in U.S.'s 2012 presidential elections. This is because it was reported that President Obama won the elections because of the ground operation presented by volunteers of his elections' campaigns (CNN Wire 1). I chose this topic since reports in state media indicated that the Republican Party was heading in the pre-election polls, but in the end, the Democratic Party won due to the use of technological innovation (Edsall 1). An in depth analysis of the research problem intends to reveal that the presidential contest favored President Obama, for using social media. Social media is increasingly an easy, fast, and effective way for people to have personal contact through technology. The intention is to prove the political premise that the most effective means of getting people to vote is through personal contact. This research will prove that President's Obama won the race because his campaigns were organized and effectively made use of social media. The presidential campaigns using social media were able to create a strong ground operation, with many volunteers who had personal contact with potential voters. Moreover, President Obama's campaigns used the latest in technology and social media techniques, allowing him to defeat Romney, who was leading in the polls. The research should elicit evidence that will offer future election candidates social media techniques applicable in campaigns. It will also prove the political science theory that personal contact is the most effective means of get people to vote.


The case study method is selected for this research, where an inquiry is made of various articles on the presidential election of 2012. This involves an interpretation of the statistics and political analysis of the presidential election to identify information on the use of social media. The research will evaluate articles that have particularly focused on the 2012 presidential election, the campaign strategy of President Obama and Mitt Romney, and the use of social media. The findings from the analysis made by these articles will provide an understanding of President Obama's use of social media and its effectiveness. The Case study method is selected for it is a powerful tool, with the advantage of focusing research on the case. This situates interpretations on the use of social media in the presidential election. The method also directs the research to focus on the differences in social media strategies between President Obama and Mitt Romney, and the impact of the use of social media on the results of the presidential election.

Analysis and Discussion

To solve the research problem, a case study of the presidential elections of 2012 is analyzed, along with a review of literature. The review of literature shows that political campaigns have taken the campaign battled online, as part of a broader effort to target specific voter population at critical moments in the campaign. Political advertising has begun spending on online advertisements and was estimated at $160 million by 2012, which is more than seven times the amount spent in 2008 (Schatz 1). After President Obama's spirited social media and online campaign in 2008 that gathered massive support from the young generation, campaigns have incorporated online sources apart from the traditional television and direct mail. Other online resources include videos, which have been identified as suitable for voter targeting. For example, Romney online videos flooded prior to the January 2012 primary. Schatz (2012) indicates that there is increased spending on online sites, since they reflect on the importance of campaigns, especially from internet sites and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook (1). This is because they not only assist campaign managers to raise money but they also energize potential voters and organize party supporters on the Election Day. Political campaigns are also using sites like YouTube and Hulu to run their television advertisements and videos online, to create an emotional connection with voters that do not watch regular television.

The findings indicate that online social media networks like Facebook can increase the voter turnout, particularly if they have evidence that their friends are also voting (Sifry 1). This conclusion was made by the U.C. San Diego research published in the Journal Nature, which indicates that a non-partisan message on Facebook calling for voters to get-out-the-vote increases voter turnout. The article by Sifry (2012) supports its claim with data from a study by Pew Internet & American Life Project (1). The project reveals that people with friends on social networks that regularly post on political content, are more likely to be involved politically or change their minds on a political issue. This research finds that the data is evidence that social media can influence people, their friends, and the friends of their friends to vote.

The data presented in Sifry's (2012) research, draws my interest for it is based on Pew Internet & American Life Project's research in collaboration with Facebook. The study sent a GoTv message at the top of the News Feed, with a link of local polling places with "I Voted" button. The results indicate that 2.08% of the users of Facebook, who received the message, were more likely to indicate they voted than those who read the informational message without a picture of their friends. These made up 20.04% and 17.96% of Facebook users. 0.4% of the users also indicate that they were more likely to vote, with more than 12 million users clicking on the "I Voted" button in 2010, compared to 5.4 million voters in 2008. The results of this data indicate that social media campaigns can elicit enhanced civic engagement in political matters since it rides of the power of social influence on friends. Social media has this effect on voters, since the site of the faces of their friends accompanying a campaign message contributes to the real-world effect of the message.

Social media is reported an effective campaign tool like the traditional television, billboard, and print advertisements. This is because social media has the proven capability of assisting parties and political managers gauge public opinion (Murphy 1). In addition, it is an easy and fast means of sharing videos and photographs of the candidate in action with their audience. Sifry (2012) indicates that social media has this capability since friends generate an additional 886,000 votes, with their close friends generating 559,000 votes. This research finds that friends do not have effect on validated voting, but they have a significant effect on the voting behavior of their friends.

The effectiveness of the social media campaigns was evident in the 2012 presidential elections in which President Obama won a second term. This is attributed to a strong ground operation that reached a wider population personally, managing to increase the voter turnout and swing undecided voters to the democratic side. Presidents Obama's campaign strategy was boosted by social media campaigns. For example, during the presidential debate at the University of Denver, Stephanie Cutter, Mitt Romney's deputy campaign manager commented, "We are getting bombed on Twitter" (Nagourney et al. 1). This statement supports evidence that early postings by journalists and political analysts, viewed as critical for the race presented a pro-Obama perception on Twitter. However, the 3rd October debate turned sour for the president following questions on the healthcare plan. To make a recovery, President Obama created a combative, contrite, and willingly recognized Mr. Romney in an attempt to prevent the loss of his legacy and signature achievement, the Healthcare plan. President Obama took up the challenge and created a campaign strategy that revolved on the voter.

The strategy used behavioral scientists to build a database of potential supporters from new voters and undecided voters. To understand this demographic group, President Obama's team methodically tracked the views of the voters through numerous telephone calls (Nagourney et al. 1). Through the social networks, President Obama was able to track and alter the nature of the electorate by making it younger and less white shifting voter allegiance from conservative lines. This comprised a large part President Obama's ground game following the tense presidential debate. President Obama was able to use the rule of personal contact to reach a demographic ground that swung the vote in his favor. According to Martin (2012), President Obama took advantage of a rapidly changing America and voters who are changing the political scene to adopt a more conservative learning Colorado, Florida, Virginia, and Nevada. President Obama was able to reach to individual voters on the ground and gather votes from swing and conservative states like Virginia and Colorado despite the poor economy and motivated opposition. Mitt Romney lost to President Obama, since the Republican Party was still whiter in a less white society with immigrant and minority communities, and more women and young voters. President Obama was able to reach the minority and immigrant community by adopting a one-on-one campaign strategy to reach as many potential voters as possible. One method the President…

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