[Note: A shorter version of this article appears on BigJournalism.com]
One cannot help but feel that Politico is once again giving cover to Barack Obama’s reelection campaign with its latest love letter of an article. This time Politico is sure that Obama is king of the Internet. But it seems that at least one Internet-based area has been a disaster for Obama of late: Twitter. Not that Politico mentions any of that, of course.
Politico’s piece lauds Obama’s data advantage, sure that the President’s highly paid “techies” housed on the sixth floor of his Chicago HQ are sweeping away all before them on the Internet. In fact, Politico is so impressed with Obama’s “techie” effort that they proclaimed that this year’s organization makes the 2008 campaign’s “look like cavemen with stone tablets.”
That’s pretty definitive, isn’t it?
The news site then goes on to note that Team Romney is mounting its own e-effort, but they seem to think there is reason to doubt that Romney can achieve “the same level of technological sophistication.” Considering that Romney’s people are just now getting at it because their primary fight is finally basically over, it makes one wonder how Politico can be so sure that Romney is through before he even starts?
Still, there is ample praise for Obama’s monumental Internet efforts. How do we know? Guess what? They have an expert to tell us so.
“It’s all about the data this year and Obama has that. When a race is as close as this one promises to be, any small advantage could absolutely make the difference,” says Andrew Rasiej, a technology strategist and publisher of TechPresident. “More and more accurate data means more insight, more money, more message distribution, and more votes.”
Not everyone is thrilled with the massive data mining, though.
All day Saturday, June 9, the Drudge Report top featured the Politico article highlighting the data mining issue and plastering it with a wary “Watching You” headline.
Rush Limbaugh also noted in one of his shows last week that these Obama Internet sweepstake gimmicks — such as the dinner with actress Sarah Jessica Parker — are really just efforts to get dumb supporters to give team Obama their email addresses, phone numbers and other personal information.
Of course, there is no doubt that Obama’s Internet team is impressive and far-reaching. But infallible? Hardly. In fact, they’ve been losing rather spectacularly on Twitter over the last several months with a failure to foresee conservatives from taking over Obama’s hashtag campaigns.
Absurdly, Politico only mentions Twitter at the very end of its four-page story and then misidentifies its impact and form. For instance, Politico notes that Obama has more Twitter followers than Romney, but this fact is somewhat meaningless when it comes to how Twitter actually works. Hashtags are an important part of how Twitter works, but Politico doesn’t bother to explore this vital bit of information.
For those of you that are Twitter illiterate, a hashtag is a way of getting millions of people to follow a particular subject without having to personally know all the people talking about that subject. For instance, if you want to let everyone know you like the new Avengers movie, you’ll place a hashtag in your Twitter message. That hashtag might look like this: #avengersmovie.
Now, even if someone doesn’t have you as a friend on their own Twitter feed, they can still see your Twitter message if they search for all those people talking about #avengersmovie.
Why is this important? Because political messaging moves at the speed of light these days and when a campaign wants to further a narrative, Twitter is the fastest way to do so. One important reason is because Twitter hits all the most informed activists the fastest and this speed of communication helps set the tone for an issue that is happening this very minute. This then sets the tone for the news coverage of that issue once the media finally gets around to covering it.
An early conservative victory on Twitter, for instance, was the #dontgo movement. This hashtag effort helped launch the Tea Parties when Twitter was still young. Thousands of conservatives all across the country became activated when Eric Odom launched the DontGo movement, a name that was taken from the plea conservatives made when the Democrats shut down Congress for summer break during the energy crisis of 2008. Odom’s experience from dontgo helped lead him to the first massive Chicago Tax Day Tea Party in 2009.
Another big conservative success on early Twitter was the #TCOT hashtag, which stood for “Top Conservatives on Twitter.” This effort launched conservatives into Twitter heavily in order to be a “top conservative.” This was a great success because it forced conservatives to get started on Twitter and forced them to become hooked in quickly that then led to great activism.
Now, for the last several months, Team Obama has tried desperately to use Twitter to raise issues to direct attention away from his dismal handling of the economy and they’ve attempted dozens of hashtag campaigns to get the word out to their own activists and the Old Media. However, in nearly as many instances conservatives have waged a counter effort to steal away Obama’s hashtags and subvert his message, so mercilessly making fun of his efforts that liberals are starting to get furious at how their Twitter narrative is being ruined.
In shot, Team Obama have found their hot issues blunted numerous times of late and they are coming to wits end over it.
There are many examples but I’ll give you just a few. One of the biggest ones was the story of Romney’s dog on the cartop story. Team Obama tried very hard to spin that story into a Romney negative. But almost immediately it was learned by conservatives that Obama had actually eaten a dog when he was in Indonesia. After eating a dog, someone else putting one on a roof sort of pales in comparison.
All sort of Twitter hashtags from conservatives lambasted Obama over that one and consequently the Romney angle never gained much ground. The fact that Obama is a dog eater has turned up with such hashtags as #thingswelearnedontwitter, #dogeater, and any other hashtags that concerns things political.
Another target of conservative hashtag makers was Cory Booker’s “hostage video,” when Democrats eviscerated the New Jersey Mayor for sticking up for capitalism. The most used tag was #FreeCoryBooker, but there were others.
One was the hashtag #RomnyYachtNames were team Obama tried to reinforce the idea that Romney was out of touch and rich. But it wasn’t long before conservatives took over the meme and started adding Romney “yacht names” like the “American Solvency,” and the “SS JobsForAmerica.” Then they created #obamayachtnames which sported such names as the “Hopelessly Lost,” the “grim reaper” and more. The libs quickly dropped the idea.
Yet another one that garnered thousands of Tweets was #LowerUnderObama. Tweets such as “The U.S. credit rating #LowerUnderObama” and “The value of the dollar #LowerUnderObama” abounded in the minutes after liberals tried to start the meme rolling.
Obama’s “Julia” campaign was also heavily ridiculed almost instantly on Twitter. The mocking overall became so bad that even Politico had to take notice. A myriad of Julia hashtags sprouted from fertile minds wrecking the liberal’s meme.
Obama isn’t the only Democrat finding that the Twitterverse isn’t as hospitable as Politico makes it out to be. Massachusetts Democrat Senate Candidate, Elizabeth “Faux-Cahontis” Warren, is also getting creamed on Twitter.
The best way to track the damage that conservatives have wrecked on Obama and the Democrat’s Twitter campaigns is the new website Twitchy.com, a site that tracks what is trending on Twitter.
Of course, once again, none of this is noted in Politico’s puff piece on Obama’s Internet operation. One has to wonder why that is?
Even Buzfeed, a liberal pop culture site, notes that Team Romney is hectoring Obama and his chief adviser, David Axelrod, on Twitter.