Election 2010- Social Networking and iPhone Apps

Posted on September 9, 2010 by

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As a head of social networking for a small local business and an Apple addict I was interested to examine the utilization of social networking and iPhone applications, as relatively recent technologies,  for the upcoming election.

Nearly every major news media outlet has an iPhone App these days including National Public Radio, Aljazerra, the Wall Street Journal, BBC, MSNBC, Time Magazine, PBS, the Drudge Report, Huffington Post, New York Times, USA Today, the Associated Press, Politico, CNN, and Fox News just to name a few.  Even the White House has one.  Clearly all of these organizations have recognized the potential benefits of making the news, articles, polls, etcetera supporting their particular slant available at the fingertips of the masses.  A majority of these apps have “Share” features allowing users to further propagate the information they are provided.

Fox's Election HQ 2010 app

A number of these politically oriented apps have been created and tailored specifically for the upcoming election.  An example of this would be Fox’s “America’s Election 2010 HQ” app, which has features including: a newsletter, up to the minute news coverage, diagrams of House, Senate, and Gubernatorial races, race data, and key issues.

Another interesting app is that of Sam Brownback, a Republican senator who is running for Governor of Kansas. Sam’s app, appropriately titled “SamForGov”, has an events calender, a sign-up sheet to volunteer for his campaign, a bio, lists of issues facing Kansas and his proposed solutions to those problems, and a “Share” feature allowing users to send info from the app via email, facebook, twitter, and SMS messaging.

Republican Gubernatorial candidate  for California, Meg Whitman, also has an app, with similar features to Brownback’s…

As does Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas for his 2010 reelection bid…

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has an app with a newsfeed, “Share option”, videos, list of races, and a signup sheet to join their contact and volunteer lists.

I was surprised to really only find one liberal “Election 2010” app, the “Liberal Democrats Manifesto 2010”, the titling of which I found to be a bit off-putting, and the lack of an adequate description of it in the app store didn’t help either.

Through the use of this technology, candidates, parties, and news organizations are able to connect, inform, energize and mobilize their bases to an extent that has only recently become possible.

NPR examined the role of internet technology and social networking back in 2008 in the context of the Presidential Election in general, and Democratic Primaries specifically.  The sentiment of the analysts interviewed for the story was that these tools could be used very effectively to galvanize the youth  vote, and that Obama was finding success doing just that.

So why aren’t Democrat candidates putting resources into developing apps for the 2010 Election, while so many of their opponents are?  It appears that Republicans took note of the impact this sort of technology had in 2008, and they have adapted, leaving the Dems in the dust.

On Twitter the playing field is a bit more level, and the fact that President Obama has over 10 times more followers than Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck combined made me feel that things might still be alright in the world.  However a recent study examining and scoring the social networking savvy of  politicians, primarily sitting senators, found the three best, in order to be John McCain, Jim DeMint, and Scott Brown. An article about  the non-partisan study on Advertising Age’s website examined several of the reasons that “Republicans scored about 5.5 points higher on average compared to their Democratic rivals”, and it seemed to boil down to the fact that Republicans are just plain trying harder.

Out of the top Senate races as listed by Real Clear Politics

Every single candidate had some sort of presence on Facebook in the form of a profile, a fan page, or a group although the assortment and multitude for each person made it difficult to compare between competitors.

In Conclusion

I was really interested to look into social networking and iPhone apps where this coming election was concerned, and I entered this search with certain assumptions that ultimately proved inaccurate.   I thought of Democrats as being younger and more tech-savvy than Republicans, which I believe, at least on the second part, was true prior to this election.  However, my findings seem to show that in this area, like so many other areas at this point in time, Democrat candidates are losing steam as their Republican counterparts are surging ahead. Where social networking and iPhone apps are concerned for the 2010 Election, Republicans are taking a dominant role.

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