Facebook likely to play a key role in winning the youth vote in 2016

It’s difficult to predict which online mediums will be the most influential by the time the 2016 presidential race rolls around. But most social media gurus would agree that its highly unlikely Facebook won’t continue be one of the dominant social networking applications for years to come. And as such, Facebook will play a key role in reaching potential voters, and young voters in particular, in 2016.

TIME magazine’s  is out with yet another insightful piece on the magazine’s“Swampland” blog explaining the Obama 2012 campaign’s incredible use of technology. In this piece Scherer profiles the campaign’s facebook application.

“In the final weeks before Election Day, a scary statistic emerged from the databases at Barack Obama’s Chicago headquarters: half the campaign’s targeted swing-state voters under age 29 had no listed phone number. They lived in the cellular shadows, effectively immune to traditional get-out-the-vote efforts.

For a campaign dependent on a big youth turnout, this could have been a crisis. But the Obama team had a solution in place—a Facebook application that will transform the way campaigns are conducted in the future. For supporters, the app appeared to be just another way to digitally connect to the campaign. But to the Windy City number crunchers, it was a game changer. “I think this will wind up being the most groundbreaking piece of technology developed for this campaign,” says Teddy Goff, the Obama campaign’s digital director.”

Scherer goes on to reveal that more than 1 million Obama supporters signed up fro the app, and suddenly either through direct use of the app or through app users’ friend lists, the Obama campaign was able to find and reach out to the young supporters whose phone numbers it did not have.

The campaign also used the app to get users to share targeted content with their friends.

“More than 600,000 supporters followed through with more than 5 million contacts, asking their friends to register to vote, give money, vote or look at a video specifically designed to change their mind,” Scherer reports.

Considering that 22-23 million young people voted in the 2012 election, and more than 14,500,000 of them voted for Obama, the fact that the Obama campaign  contacted only 5 million people of all ages through the app may seem negligible. Its important to keep in mind that the Obama campaign’s facebook app was developed last minute, and an app developed earlier on in the campaign would have reached an exponentially greater number of people.

Furthermore, Scherer reports that, “Early tests of the system found statistically significant changes in voter behavior. People whose friends sent them requests to vote early and register to vote, for example, were more likely to do so than similar potential voters who were not contacted.”

A well-developed Facebook application could be a candidate’s ace in the hole in the next presidential election.

While we don’t know who the 2016 GOP nominee will be, we do know that according to federal law the only outside organization he or she will be able to work with is the national party.  The good news is that the Republican National Committee has an existing facebook application.

Through the app supporters can invite friends to use the app, find and create events in their area, make calls from home and donate. However, the app runs mind bogglingly slow, users are unable to see and connect with their friends who are also using the app, and while users can watch RNC videos from the app. But Romney videos, oddly enough, are not listed, and none of the advanced features of the Obama campaign’s app such as registering to vote and inviting friends to register to vote – the attributes that made the app invaluable – are available through the RNC’s app.

I’ve previously hammered on the point that youth outreach can’t be just an election year effort if the GOP wants to win the youth vote. A key part of youth outreach has to be building up the technological infrastructure in non-election years.

In preparation for another potentially ugly presidential primary in 2016 that would result in a limited amount of time for the GOP nominee to rally resources and voters, the national party should take the lead on developing a useful application for facebook, as well as building up a long-term presence on tumblr and other emerging social media sites. Given that it took the Obama campaign a year to build its impressive GOTV app, it is imperative that the GOP begin improving its existing product immediately.

Comments

Comments

  1. Anon says:

    Why is there just now an article over this? The power of Facebook has been harnessed since 2008 its usefullness is nothing new. Its just the other side is the one using it well not us.

    1. Francesca Chambers Francesca Chambers says:

      But even the Obama campaign didn’t deploy its awesome app until the month of the election this year, so it just goes to show how far campaign technology for both sides was behind, but the GOP in particular.

Polititainment

Biden congratulates 'Veep' on Emmy win
From one Vice President to another… Vice President Joe Biden took to Twitter Tuesday to congratulate actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus on her Emmy win. Louis-Dreyfus snagged her third consecutive Outstanding Actress in a Comedy series win Monday for her portrayal of a fictional vice president on HBO’s “Veep.” Last year, the VP picked up the phone […]
Emmys snub political TV shows
Most of the 66th  annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday felt like a repeat of 2013′s awards show. “Modern Family,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Big Bang Theory’s” Jim Parsons all dominated the night, leaving most of the politically-themed and Washington D.C.-set shows out in the cold. Though “House of Cards”, “Scandal”, “Homeland”, “The Good Wife”, “The […]
Let's Play Emmy Bingo!

Play Emmy Bingo (specially created for lovers of political entertainment!) along with us as the winners are awarded during NBC's live broadcast Monday night.

Rick Perry's mugshot, marketing asset

Lesson: No matter how hard you try to make Rick Perry look bad, it just ain't gonna work.

Mitt's awesome ice bucket challenge reax

"Mitt does the most Mitt thing ever."

White House

White House: Checked-out Obama is a media myth
THE HILL – The White House is bristling at suggestions President Obama is disconnected, checked out or out of touch. White House allies maintain that the storyline of a checked-out president is a myth drummed up by the media during the summer doldrums. “It’s bull—t,” said one former senior administration official. “This is a guy who […]
Obama’s summer vacation by the numbers
After two weeks away from the White House, President Barack Obama’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, ends late Sunday. A look, by the numbers, at how Obama spent the time while juggling his responsibilities as president, including monitoring the situations in Iraq and in Ferguson, Missouri: — 15: days, all or part, spent on the […]
Obama is halfway to becoming an EGOT winner after ‘Between Two Ferns’ appearance snags Emmy award
President of the United States might not be the most exclusive title Barack Obama holds soon. Obama is now halfway to becoming an “EGOT” winner, an elite title that only 12 other individuals including the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Helen Hayes can claim. “EGOT”  stands for the four major annual American entertainment awards: the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Winning […]
David Axelrod: Democrats ‘were wrong’ to criticize George W. Bush for going on vacation, should ‘want’ POTUS vacation time
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, some Democrats are changing their tune about the optics of presidential vacations. Former president George W. Bush was attacked harshly by Democrats throughout his eight year presidency for taking vacations on the family ranch. Even now, Bush’s 381 vacation days are given as a reason that […]

Congress

UNEARTHED: Archival footage of Harry Reid smiling

From appearances, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid derives little pleasure from his job, perhaps a deputy to the paragon of joylessness. But Red Alert Politics has dug into the archives to demonstrate that it wasn't always like this.

Rubio: Obama action would kill immigration reform
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is urging President Barack Obama to forego taking executive action on immigration, warning that would kill any chance for comprehensive immigration reform. “If indeed you move forward on such a decision, I believe it will close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future,” […]
House GOP hires legal representation to sue Obama
THE HILL – House Republicans have hired D.C. law firm BakerHostetler to provide legal representation to sue President Obama. House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) signed a contract on Monday for BakerHostetler to represent the House in the civil action lawsuit in a U.S. district court against the president. “The president must be held accountable, and the […]
McCain: Let's send ISIL 'straight to hell'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) contributed to the escalating rhetoric of American officials against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Friday night.

McConnell’s plan to shut down Obama
POLITICO – Mitch McConnell has a game plan to confront President Barack Obama with a stark choice next year: Accept bills reining in the administration’s policies or veto them and risk a government shutdown. In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate […]