Obama’s 50-state Twitter campaign

The social media action is in the swing states.

The social-media audience advantage President Obama enjoys over his challenger is so wide that it led the Pew Research Center to conclude in August that the Democrats have a “substantial lead” on Facebook and Twitter. But the topline numbers of Obama’s following—28 million likes on Facebook, compared with 6.2 million for Mitt Romney—tell only part of the story.

At the local level, Obama is running a 50-state online campaign. Each statewide field office has its own Facebook page and verified Twitter accounts. The content and activity of these feeds is a virtual reflection of the electoral map. Twitter feeds for safe states, even Illinois where the campaign is headquartered, don’t have particularly large followings. A few feeds from confirmed red states are suffering from benign neglect. As of this writing, for instance, Obama for America TN, the official Obama for America–Tennessee Twitter account, hadn’t been updated since Aug. 14.

The social-media action is in the swing states. The Ohio effort has 70,000 Facebook likes. InPennsylvania, there are almost 40,000 Twitter followers. Numbers for NevadaNew Hampshire,North Carolina, and Virginia are disproportionate to the size of the population and reflect the attention the campaign is paying to audience-building on social media. There’s no guarantee that these followers come from inside contested states, are registered to vote, or are even of voting age, but even allowing for this, the statewide operations can use social media to recruit volunteers and focus attention on local efforts.

The reach of these state operations belie one of the Pew report’s central themes—that the Obama campaign is not engaged with followers online. The Obama Twitter account followed by 19 million users is largely confined to the candidate and his top surrogates, with the state accounts slightly more open. In addition to messages that come from the campaign headquarters, the state feeds include occasional re-tweets from volunteers, pictures of smiling college students at a rally, or senior citizens working the phones at a campaign office.

“It’s very ‘un-Democratic’ to give more power to the states,” observed Vince Harris, a Republican digital specialist who helped run the insurgent campaign of Ted Cruz in Texas. By contrast, “Romney seems to be running a very Boston-centric digital operation,” Harris said. “It’s the opposite of how these two would govern.”

Still, Beth Becker, a liberal social-media activist and the founder of Progressive PST, said that the Obama social-media structure is run from the top down and would benefit from even more inclusion on the part of local staffers and surrogates. She would like to see high-profile supporters such as Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley with their own “semiofficial campaign accounts” to focus on local and regional concerns. The statewide Twitter accounts, she said, read like they were written at campaign headquarters, with a few local references and links thrown in. “If you don’t trust someone you’ve hired to take your talking point and turn it into a tweet, then you’ve hired the wrong person,” she said.

The 50-state plan is more evidence that the Obama team thinks of digital as an integral part of the campaign. “In Republican politics, digital is much more siloed off,” Harris said. While he credits the Romney team with doing “a fantastic job of catching up in the last two months,” the Obama campaign is doing digital at a scale that its opponents can’t match.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.