The role of social media in the 2012 US Presidential campaign. A look back at some of those funny and awkward campaign moments. And Twitter reveals the candidate’s most popular tweets.
The role of social networks in the 2012 presidential election
Social networks featured very prominently in the US presidential campaign. The two main candidates made great use of these tools to win over voters and update supporters, as did the people of America, to make their voices heard.
The incumbent president announced his victory in the 2012 presidential election on Twitter. Shortly after results in key states were announced, Barack Obama took to the micro blogging platform to thank his supporters for giving him another four years in office.
Another indication of the important role of social media in the campaign: the two opponents sent out multiple messages to supporters throughout Tuesday’s Election Day. Mitt Romney’s posts took on a somewhat dramatic tone, Obama’s were more lighthearted, but they both had the same objective: encourage American voters to turn out en masse as turnout was crucial in the neck and neck race.
But the White House hopefuls weren’t the only ones using these online tools. It would seem countless voters have turned to social networks to share their political views. According to a study carried out by “Pew Research”, 22 % of Americans clearly stated who they would be voting for this year, via Twitter or Facebook. The findings also show that 30 % of voters used social media platforms to encourage their friends and family to cast their ballot on November 6.
And many Americans, from celebrities to the man in the street, also used social networks to share photos of them fulfilling their civic duty on Tuesday. Illustrating once again, the prominent role played by the Internet in the election campaign.
Funny and awkward campaign moments
It was a closely fought campaign, with both candidates taking no holds barred swipes at each other throughout the race for the White House; it was also on occasion a source of much amusement for web users. Here’s a look at some of those funny, and awkward campaign moments.
The first major event to hit the online headlines: Clint Eastwood’s appearance at the Republican National Convention at the end of August. A significant proportion of his speech was addressed to … a chair. In said chair was an invisible Barack Obama who he berated for decisions made during his first term in office. The purpose was to win support for the Republican party and their presidential candidate, but it didn’t really have the desired effect … Eastwood soon became the butt of online jokes, with social networkers emphasizing the surrealist nature of his speech by uploading pictures of them pointing to empty chairs; a pose which soon became known as “Eastwooding”.
Another unforgettable campaign moment was when, during the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney pledged to cut state funding for PBS, the public television network that broadcasts children’s TV program “Sesame Street”. The Republican candidate’s announcement sent the social media world into a frenzy, with web users expressing their outrage by creating photo montages, each as wacky as the next, featuring Mitt Romney and the show’s main character “Big Bird”.
Yes, it would seem Mitt Romney didn’t have much luck with the presidential debates. During the second televised showdown, he made a bit of a gaffe when he talked of having quote “binders full of women”; a rather unfortunate turn of phrase, which soon became a source of inspiration for all sorts of amusing and imaginative online jokes.
And then there was Barack Obama’s memorable put down during the third and final televised debate when Mitt Romney said the US Navy now had fewer ships that it did in 1916. The president responded by saying the nature of the US military had changed and it also had “fewer horses and bayonets”: his remark became an instant Internet sensation.
USA: the candidates’ most popular tweets
Twitter has published an interactive map charting the candidate’s most popular tweets during the race for the White House. And statistics show that Obama’s best loved tweet was about education, and Romney’s was commemorating the September 11 attacks. You can also type in keywords, to see where specific issues drew the most attention.
Infographic shows the candidates’ spending in Swing States
According to this infographic published online by Google, Barack Obama spent 61 million dollars on campaigning in the eight swing states. A lot more than the 39 million dollars invested by Mitt Romney. But what impact did this have on their popularity there? Well Google says Barack Obama was a more popular topic on their search engine, but that Mitt Romney was the favored search term on news and information websites.