Social media will play a larger role in the 2016 Presidential elections than it ever has previously. When TV and radio advertisements were the only way to reach the American voters besides traveling to all 50 states, a candidate’s chances at winning the Presidency were pretty clear the day they announced. But things have changed, and the entire format of 21st Century political campaigning has been transformed.
Twitter profiles, Youtube videos, Snapchat stories, campaign logos and branding, attention-grabbing political graphics: all of these, whether they should be or not, now play a crucial role in a candidacy. Some candidates have even announced their bids for the White House via social media videos, with massive followings on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. That alone shows the new, important role social media now plays in elections and politics.
The following is a list of the Republican candidates’ Twitter followers as of June 19th:
Having a large social media support base to begin a political campaign definitely doesn’t hurt. So, does Donald Trump, with his 3 millions Twitter followers, have a leg-up on his opponents? Short answer – no. A recent CNN poll shows that two-thirds of potential GOP Primary voters can’t see themselves supporting the mega-business man. Meanwhile, 75% of those same individuals said they could see themselves backing former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio as the two candidates currently holding the broadest appeal out of the entire potential GOP field. If you are specifically target candidates by Twitter followers, the scenario quickly falls apart given the fact that Jeb Bush has fewer than nearly every other candidate.
Other candidates have used their online base to create unique ways of targeting young voters. Take Rand Paul for example. With an incredibly active campaign consisting of millennials and older voters alike, Rand uses campaign stores and apparel to excite that base. With multiple t-shirt design competitions and a large selection of patriotic apparel at hand, you can spot Rand Paul supporters a mile away by their fun, conservative shirts and shades. Marco Rubio caught on this past week by launching his own campaign store consisting of Marco Polos and Captain America-themed t-shirts to brand his supporters. Pictured below are advertisements from the campaigns themselves:
Needless to say, Presidential campaigns are no longer just about giving speeches, kissing babies, and going door-to-door during hot summer days. These 21st Century campaigns have proven one thing – politics isn’t just for old people anymore, and today’s candidates are realizing that. You’ll no longer have to wait for the next Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton to visit your rural American town in order to find out about them; find out directly what they are saying online. This is 2016. This is modern politics. Hope you brought your wallet!
(Featured Image by Gage Skidmore)