Which Political Party is Leveraging Social Media?

by Jay Deragon on 09/26/2010

Social media has and will continue to be a significant influence over politics. Barak Obama leveraged social media as the differential in his presidential campaign and it was the difference that got him elected.

Now we see the Tea Party using social media to propagate their message and rally voters. More and more politicians are awakening to the influence afforded for using social media as a channel to reach voters and influence “the market of conversations.

The Coming Elections

The traditional media will be consumed with reports about the November elections but social media is likely to be the differentail which continues to change the political landscape. Lets examine what is happening with the parties and their use of social media.

Republican candidates for the U.S. senate have amassed more than four times as many Facebook Fans as their Democratic counterparts, and more than five times as many Twitter Followers, according to an analysis by HeadCount, a nonpartisan voter registration organization.

As of Sept. 21st, Republican candidates for the Senate had over 1.43 million Fans on Facebook, compared to just under 300,000 for Democrats. The differential on Twitter is even more striking, where Republican Senatorial candidates collectively have close to 520,000 Followers, and Democrats are just below 90,000.

Even when eliminating Arizona Senator John McCain and California Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina, Republicans who respectively have the largest number of Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers, Republicans are clearly making larger inroads with social media. Without McCain and Fiorina, Republican Senate candidates average 20,985 Facebook Fans, compared to 8,260 for Democrats. The G.O.P. averaged 5,891 Twitter Followers, compared to 2,591 by their opponents.

The full report, which lists social media statistics for all Senatorial candidates along with major political figures and musicians, is available at www.HeadCount.org/blog.

“We began by researching the disparity in social media activity involving musicians compared to political figures, to illustrate the point that music is a great tool to spur political conversation online,” said Andy Bernstein, Executive Director of HeadCount. “We then discovered that the gap between the parties was proportionately just as wide.”

Candidates associated with the Tea Party are clearly responsible for much of the social media activity, most notably South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint. Hailed as one of the most new media savvy elected officials, he has more Twitter Followers than any incumbent and more Facebook Fans than any incumbent other than McCain. Across both parties, candidates in California and Florida have strong social media followings. In Florida Kendrick Meek has the third largest social media following of any Democrat nationwide, but he also ranks third in his own state, trailing Republican Marco Rubio and Independent Charlie Crist.

Still, none of the candidates have a social media presence comparable to musicians. HeadCount tallied the number of Facebook Fans of 25 of the artists that have supported the organization’s voter registration efforts. All had more Fans than any Senatorial candidate other than McCain. Kings of Leon, the artist in the group with the largest number of Facebook Fans with close to five million, has more than double the number of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Pay attention to the influence and use of social media in politics. It is likely to become a dominate factor from here on out.

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