In the fight for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, multiple locations will be come into play. Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida – all sound familiar as hotly contested swing states.
However, it now appears that, for the first time, much of the fight will travel online. Many of Republican candidates have already migrated to Twitter, including such high ranking party members as Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, amongst others.
Gingrich leads the group in followers, with 1,308,757 while Palin has 191,164 followers. Huckabee has 83,297 followers while Romney trails with less than 15,000.
Yet, the number of followers candidates claim isn’t really indicative of their overall popularity or their propensity to win the bid. Many candidates’ supporters may have a limited knowledge of how/why Twitter exists at all – but traditional media outlets certainly know better. After all, it only takes is one high-profile media outlet to print a tweet and the topic can immediately go viral.
Consider Palin’s social media gaffe from earlier this week. While trying to insert herself into the Ground Zero mosque debate, she blatantly invented a word a la former President George Bush; she urged Muslims to “Refudiate” their plans to build the mosque. A Google search for “Palin” and “Refudiate” now leads to over 215,000 online posts ranging from Time to The Washington Post.
But that wasn’t all she did last week on Twitter; she also completed important business. Palin announced her endorsement Karen Handel in the Georgia Republican primary.
The insight here is that social media will likely be as powerful as traditional media in terms of marketing, PR and, ultimately, winning the Republican bid.
Perhaps a Republican candidate will even try to follow the Obama handbook and wage an entire grassroots campaign waged online. One thing’s for sure — it’s going to be an exciting 18 months!
For further details, please view Slate.com.