Yesterday’s Senate race in Massachusetts disrupted politics as usual. Scott Brown’s win over Democrat Martha Coakley in a state dominated by Democrats for 50 years has political pundits scratching their heads wondering “how could this happen?”.
Today’s “talking heads” will dominate the new channels with analysis of the race and opinions on why Scott Brown was able to win the senate seat when just three weeks ago he was behind Martha Coakley by double digits and no one expected him to be able to actually win.
The pundits will talk about how Martha Coakley ran a poor race and how she failed to rally the base to get out the vote. Others will say that Scott Brown’s message tapped an angry and concerned voter base which desired “change you can believe in”.
But What Was the Biggest Factor?
David Merrman Scott writes and excellent article yesterday in the Huffington Post titled : Coakley v Brown: The Social Media Divide May Decide Election. In this article David points out the difference between the candidates in terms of how the used or didn’t use social media to propagate their message. David writes:
So it’s fascinating to watch Martha Coakley’s campaign for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts basically ignore new media in favor of the old playbooks that elected Ted Kennedy to the seat.
Of course there is much more to the race: Politics and platforms and personal connections are important. But didn’t Obama for America teach us that the Web has the power to push a candidate over the top? Obama also showed the importance of young people (whose communications of choice is digital).
Let’s look at a few numbers. As I compare the morning before election day, @MarthaCoakley has 3,520 Twitter followers compared to @ScottBrownMA with 10,214 followers. Coakley counts 14,487 Facebook fansBrown’s 76,700 fans. Advantage Brown by more than three to one. to
The Coakley campaign underestimated the importance of social media and the new rules of marketing and PR.
You would think that Democrats would have taken notes from the playbook of Barack Obama (see Barack 2.0, a compelte study of Barack Obama’s use of social media by David Bullock)and how we used social media to beat John McCann. John McCain relied on what worked to elect George W. Bush and he lost mainly because of social media. Martha Coakley relied on the playbook that elected Ted Kennedy and she lost because of social media too.
Social media will continue to influence politics because of its reach and richness in propagating a message to the marketplace of listeners. Scott Brown didn’t win because of social media but because he used social media to get his message to voters who weren’t tuned into news media rather they were tuned into the real voice of the voter. All Scott Brown did was seed the conversations and let the conversations flow to a larger audience.
Political intentions are the means to attract voter support. In the old days intentions were expressed in sound bites propagated by ads and news stories. Today the political intentions are now expressed 24/7 by the people and for the people. The voice of the audience made the difference in the Massachusetts race .