Thursday, March 1, 2012

Andy Kessler: When Will Social Media Elect a President? -

Andy Kessler: When Will Social Media Elect a President? -

should we believe the hype about social media's impact on the 2012 election?

Pew Research says no. "Cable leads the pack as campaign news source," it concludes in a recently released 35-page report. "Twitter, Facebook play very modest roles."

Too bad that misses the point. New technologies have always altered campaigns and usually in mysterious ways. Party conventions were first televised in 1952 and soon lost their relevance, becoming scripted theater. Richard Nixon lost votes by sweating under harsh lighting during his televised debate with JFK. Bill Clinton bypassed the traditional news media, playing "Heartbreak Hotel" on his sax on Arsenio Hall's late-night show. used the Internet to accumulate small donations and host a virtual primary won by Howard Dean, who in turn was brought down by a scream, which in turn went viral on the Web. YouTube was soon created and in 2008 hosted "Obama Girl" and other user-generated campaign ads.

In November 2008, Twitter had about four million users, and 100,000 followed candidate Obama. Today, President Obama has more than 12.5 million followers (while Mitt Romney has about 350,000 and Rick Santorum about 150,000). In 2008, Facebook had roughly 50 million users—nowhere near today's 845 million—and Google+ didn't exist.

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