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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Social Media and the Campaign: Retrospect

Social media played a much bigger role in the 2012 campaign than in previous elections.

Pew reports:

On Election Day 2012, the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds social media to be a significant part of the process by which voters are talking about their ballot selections, especially younger voters: Social media platforms have also become a notable venue for people to try to convince their friends to vote.
  • 30% of registered voters have been encouraged to vote for Democrat Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney by family and friends via posts on social media such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • 20% of registered voters have encouraged others to vote by posting on a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter.
CNN reports:
Facebook, where people love to discuss politics and complain about other people discussing politics, saw a huge surge in Election Day chatter on Tuesday.
In a stunning nod to the power of social media in this election, Obama's first public acknowledgment of victory was a post shared on Twitter and Facebook. It read "Four more years" and included a photo of Barack and Michelle Obama hugging.
That single post was the most retweeted in the history of Twitter (more than 700,000 times), and on Facebook it raked in an astounding 3.5 million likes and almost 500,000 people shared it on their own Timelines.
Over the course of the day, there were more than 71.7 million election related posts and comments on Facebook in the United States and 88.7 million around the world.
According to Facebook's internal Talk Meter, which measures how much buzz events get on the network, the election was the most talked about event in 2012. It was especially popular among 25- to 34-year-olds and in D.C., Mississippi and Virginia. It was also a huge topic internationally. Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia were the top countries posting about the election.
The Los Angeles Times reports on election night:
Nearly 67 million people tuned in to watch network news coverage of the elections, ratings firm Nielsen reported. But social media was also a big draw: 306 million people flocked to Facebook and more than 11 million turned to Twitter, a big jump from a day earlier, according to research firm Experian Hitwise.
And that has begun to disrupt the familiar rhythm of political campaigns and national elections that used to play out on TV, radio and, more recently, the websites of news organizations. On election night, people who turned on a second screen did so to chat and connect with others on social media, and in doing so they had a very different experience than those who did not.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that the results shocked a number of conservatives
But, rather than the purportedly surprising election results reflecting some national subversion of the voting process, many political scientists and other analysts say this right-wing upset is dramatic evidence of a growing partisan divide in our media.
Increasingly, the public consumes media that reinforce personal views rather than give actual information about the world, says University of San Francisco political scientist Corey Cook.
“The biggest story of this election is the stories that were being told about the election,” says Professor Cook, adding, “the two sides had very different views heading into the election night.”
Fox News Channel, on the one hand, he points out, repeatedly drove home the idea that Romney was headed for a huge victory nabbing more than 300 electoral votes, while the other side was saying that calculation included states that were not even in play.
“It was really as if places like MSNBC and Fox were talking about completely different races,” he adds.