Obama's big social media edge: Will it affect the election?
September 22nd, 2012
10:28 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama's big social media edge: Will it affect the election?

New York (CNN) - If social media were the metric by which elections were won or lost, President Barack Obama would have little to worry about come November.

"I think it will literally make the difference," said Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist who helped orchestrate the campaign of Howard Dean's failed bid for the Democratic nomination in 2004, after a presentation at the Social Good Summit here.

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As of Saturday night, the incumbent had garnered 28.8 million Facebook "likes" and more than 20 million Twitter followers, compared with 7.1 million "likes" and 1.16 million followers for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

"They got left in the dust," Trippi said of the Republican campaign.

But Leonardo Alcivar, the online rapid response director for Romney's campaign, was unimpressed. "If the number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends determined the election, Justin Bieber would be president," he said. "Our supporters are very engaged."

"Justin Bieber's not running," Trippi deadpanned.

He said the role of social media has ballooned since he worked on the Dean campaign. In 2004, "Facebook barely existed," he said.

Even four years later, Obama had just 2.4 million likes, he said.

As the numbers have grown, so too has the campaign's ability to use them, he said.

Two or three states "could look a lot like Florida did in the year 2000," he said, referring to the tight vote that wound up being put in the Republican column, resulting in George W. Bush's victory.

In any future such cases, Obama's social media mobilization efforts could prove decisive, Trippi said.

"If people knew how much these two campaigns know about you and the data you've turned over to them, you'd turn your machines off - and I mean that quite literally," he said.

For example, it might be possible for the Obama campaign to cull through those Facebook "likes" for undecided voters and identify those who have seen "Oceans 11," then target a message from actor George Clooney, who supports Obama, Trippi said.

Or an undecided voter may wind up receiving messages from five of her friends urging her to vote Democratic, he said. "That's more powerful than the paid ad Obama's spending money for on TV," he said.

Alcivar described as "incredible" the level of engagement the Romney campaign has created with supporters. "Twitter tells us a lot. We put a tremendous lot of resources in the Romney campaign to make sure we are focusing our communications efforts on reaching people directly," he said. "We know where the country is; we know there's a huge desire for change."

Who has how many social media followers is meaningless, he said. "The Obama campaign loves to engage in vanity metrics. They sound good but don't matter."

Trippi said both parties' campaigns have failed to use the media as much as they could because they want to keep a tight rein on their message. "I think they're way too careful ... I think both campaigns have suffered."

Also see:

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– Biden: Romney tape, demeanor shows he 'does not understand' middle class


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Dorothy

    What about Kathleen Seblius? Democrat cabinet member Twitting who to vote for not just vote for Obama But she also tweeted to vote DEM on another race. This is against the LAW...The response from the dishonest destructive Obama is Messiah media.....none. Laws, rules,ethics have no place in the leftest Obama Democrat party. I just can't decide which is more offensive. The LIES Obama feeds Americans or the LIES his media feeds America trying to help Obama. Both are 100% indefensiable! Both almost criminal. Both very sinister. IMHO

    September 23, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    I made up my mind–so is most of this nation. Obama12.

    September 23, 2012 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  3. Triple A

    His online following? like the millions that were proven to be just fake empty seats??

    September 23, 2012 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    No. His followers are simply the mindless.......who will vote for him simply because he is a black man, in spite of the fact he has been a dismal failure as President.

    September 23, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  5. Gurgyl

    Obama, please send those buses here–middle class america under the bus-outsourcing-47% comments ect...please we need in every nook of the corner..

    September 23, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  6. Minnie Mouse

    Technology is the worst thing for our country and it's the creater of all problems. Property theft, idenity theft, driving and walking accidents, loss of jobs, loss of all privacy, ect...Your giving the entire country free access to anything and everything. You don't need to even have a job, a phone, or a car. If you have a bank account and or if it's funneled in by governmnet money and a computer, then you've got it made. What else does a person really need?? You know how ridiculous that is!! But it's 100% the truth.

    Our countries piorities, need to be job creation, affordable house and rental property, affordable educations, clean energy, affordable and regulated insurance, technology regulation, food regulations (by means of reducing salt and sugar intake) ect.., cleaner water, higher mimum wages, and recycling.

    So, no a presidents victory should be determined by who has the greatest techonology and especially when it's working against our own country. It's supposed to solve problems, not create them!

    September 23, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  7. Donald

    Stupid question since the main stream media is joyfully providing all the assistance needed to re-elect the commie.

    September 23, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  8. Minnie Mouse

    A presidents victory should not be determined by technology. (Edit,Revise)

    September 23, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  9. rcsdinthehills

    If everyone would vote Obama would win, no question. Republicans vote. Therein lies the problem.

    September 23, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  10. BD70

    I keep my political likes and dislikes off FB. I don't care to get into a political debate via FB with my friends.

    September 23, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  11. Tom

    This was great for a laugh. What kind of fairy tale does this guy live in!! I'm one of the people who "follow" him on Twitter and are "friends" with him on Facebook, but I can assure you I am no supporter!! Read some of the comments left by his "friends" & "followers," most are very clear that they do not support him and do not intend to vote for him!!!

    September 23, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
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