By Joe Kaiser -
Mitt Romney’s running mate announcement Saturday morning was not really a big surprise to anyone who was glued to the Internet, in particular Twitter, Friday night. Speculation surrounding the selection of Paul Ryan was already brewing and promising, which of course excited conservatives heading into Romney’s announcement, but also gave the Obama campaign some extra time to prepare to launch attacks against Ryan.
Not surprisingly the president used weekend stump speeches to have a go at the Wisconsin Republican and the Obama camp wasted no time in developing a web video attacking him.
However, the most scathing and widespread attacks came via the same source that leaked the Ryan announcement in the first place: Twitter. Within a span of five hours on Saturday, the president’s Twitter page used nine of 10 tweets to hammer Ryan and did not slow down the rest of the day.
Here are just 8 of 16 tweets about Ryan from Obama on Saturday, Aug 11 alone:
5 key facts about Paul Ryan: pic.twitter.com/YlkUSmAl
FACT: Paul Ryan would ask middle-class families to pay thousands of dollars more a year in taxes to help fund tax cuts for millionaires.
Paul Ryan is an architect of the top-down GOP budget that cuts education, energy, & innovation even as it gives tax cuts to the wealthy.
FACT: Paul Ryan would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program, costing seniors up to $6,350 a year.
FACT: Paul Ryan would cut Pell Grant scholarships for nearly 10 million students even as he gives tax cuts to the wealthy.
FACT: Paul Ryan would ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest.
FACT: Paul Ryan cosponsored a bill that would ban many common forms of birth control, including certain birth control pills.
FACT: Paul Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps women fight for equal pay for equal work.
Despite the fact that a lot of what Obama’s campaign is implying Ryan would do is not within the powers of the VP, the effectiveness of these tweets is not diminished. The effectiveness of tweeting attacks opposed to web videos or stump speeches is that more people, interested in politics or not, are bound to see it via the retweet. Only political junkies and those up to extreme date on the news are searching for web ads on Youtube and paying attention to stump speech rhetoric. With over 140 million people on Twitter, more independent and casual voters are likely seeing the arguments and intensity of the campaign season via this site than anywhere else right now, especially if they follow the president, which over 18 million people do.
On the other hand, Romney has yet to reach one million followers. Of course the governor would have less than an incumbent president, but it does mean he has to be less active, which he is by a long shot. As previously stated, Obama had 16 tweets attacking Paul Ryan on Aug. 11 alone (In addition to other tweets not concerning the congressman). Romney’s account on the same day tweeted a total of three times.
November’s outcome may not be decided in the trenches of social media, but when every last vote of every last independent in every last battleground state is going to matter for both sides, it is hard to deny that the right is lagging far behind the left in social media campaigning.
In the following months, the Romney campaign and RNC should seriously consider launching new waves of social media strategies if they want to compete with the president’s large Internet presence. Even Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who has limited funds, is attempting to utilize social media to its fullest because his campaign, though a long shot at best, still understands how powerful social media is this day in age.
And, obviously, the Obama campaign knows that too, as they did in 2008. The Obama campaign’s many accounts (@BarackObama, @Obama2012, @MichelleObama, @JoeBiden, @TruthTeam2012, @LationsForObama) are all very active and since Saturday have continued to post ‘facts’ about Romney’s running mate constantly each day. As these mini attacks are retweeted over and over again, more and more people are being exposed to the rhetoric from the Democrats with no powerful social media response from the Republicans.
Romney has an easy answer to try and combat the tweets from the left that he is not using nearly as frequesntly or effectivley as his opponent. It’s easy, that is, if he can do it in 140 characters or less, which is not a hard task when views from independent voters are just a click away.