For your final blog post, please predict, based on what you’ve learned and what your *imagination* says, what you think will be key to winning the 2012 election online.
I don’t know where social media will be 2012. Mobile technology and Smartphone will likely make a huge processing leap and will likely play a much greater role. I can see how augmented reality SRengine might be helpful in the field if combined with the face recognition technology of a platform like Flickr. The campaigns themselves will likely place online and tech higher up the campaign hierarchy. Governor Pawlenty’s first hires for a possible run wasn’t a top-tier political strategist but online campaign experts. Garrett’s piece in Infonomics and Mike’s work through Edelman also both called to attention that social media tools are tools not a strategy. Finally, the candidate’s themselves will have to not only be comfortable with a media environment influenced by social media, but they will have to thrive in it as President Obama did in 2008.
The social media component of both President Obama’s reelection and his challenger will have to maintain (Obama) or establish (his opponent) trust with the user/voter.
First: I think that based on the impressive online, grassroots, contributor network that President Obama amassed in the 2008, it will be difficult, though not impossible for a Republican candidate to win the 2012 Presidential election. Call it Metcalfe’s Law for politics, but while this network might not have the surge of passion of 2008, it is still there and as it grow steadily larger, it will be hard for a challenger to catch up. Governor Palin has 3 million Facebook friends to President Obama’s seven million. Could she overcome him? Also despite what Zephyr Teachout predicted, Organizing For America is still going strong and recently set its sites on Governor Palin.
This is not to say that President Obama’s reelection campaign will be able to just dust off the magic playbook and run the same type of outsider, grassroots campaign that proved so successful against to political brands (Clinton & McCain). President Obama can’t run on ‘change’ or ‘outside the beltway’ as now, he is part of the establishment. Also, 2008 was unique in that it was the first open campaign since 1920, where there wasn’t an incumbant or Vice-President running. And while I think it is unlikely that ‘progressives,’ will shoot themselves in the foot and push for a primary challenger, in the three years before the first ballot in Iowa, President Obama is going to have do more than perpetually and eloquently articulating his message and get something done.
Last year when I started a similar social media class with Garrett Graff (a class which I later withdrew from to join the campaign), he mentioned one thing that stuck out in my mind. Then Senator Obama, like Governor Dean, had to take the grassroots social media approach because the establishment angle was both already filled (Sen. Clinton) and wouldn’t fit his political narrative. In David Ploufe’s recent book, The Audacity to Win, he acknowledges as much that the traditional constituencies were already carved out by Senator Clinton (party faithful) and Senator Edwards (political activists). Ploufe believed that the only way to win Iowa (which was the ball game against the formidable Clinton legacy) was to galvanize a third category of voters (young people, Republicans & Independents, and first-time voters). Now those constituencies are President Obama’s as well as young people and some R & I holdouts. If social media is about ‘conversations,’ who is left to talk to?