What The 2012 Election Tells Us…
Our long national nightmare is over…
Well, for those of us in the DC area, it may have felt like a nightmare… weeks of political ads that never seemed to quit. While Virginia was a ‘swing state’ and the DC market thus was inundated with commercials for the Presidential race, there were a couple of major referendums in Maryland that saw a lot of campaign spending as well.
I, for one, am relieved the election is behind us.
And while pundits are Monday-morning-quarterbacking the results, I found two things very interesting:
First, that traditional TV advertising is still important for getting a political message across. I was in California last week, where there was little doubt that President Obama would take the lion’s share of votes in that state. And while there was almost no Presidential advertising on TV, the airwaves were saturated with ads about the various statewide ballot measures. Television is an incredibly expensive medium for advertising, yet it delivers a large audience unmatched by any other media platform. Political campaigns would simply not require the billions of dollars they do if TV wasn’t a crucial communications medium… and it remains effective nearly sixty years after the first televised campaigns.
Second, social media is now an integral part of the ‘ground-game’ in gathering support for a candidate or cause, and then getting those voters to the polls. Whole Facebook campaigns were generated, and candidates had Twitter followers in the millions. Running mates are now announced first via a Tweet. And the post-election results show that young and first-time voters, the denizens of social media, turned out in even higher numbers in 2012 than they did during Barack Obama’s first run at the White House. The social awareness that the younger generation possesses thanks to social media has now been translated into votes, and elections will never be the same.
No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall, it’s hard not be impressed with the Obama organization’s grassroots effort to engage with the public. The 2012 election will be a textbook study in growing constituencies through the combined power of traditional & new media.
Let the 2016 campaign begin.