Social Media and Political Campaigns

November 17, 2011 by · Comments Off 


By Jared Monmouth

In 2008, America witnessed one of the most unusual and historic presidential elections in our nation’s history: there was a viable African-American candidate, a viable female candidate, and social media was used to an extent that had never been seen before.

Now in 2011, GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain hope to replicate this media strategy that made Obama’s campaign so successful three years ago.

While the use of popular social media has expanded to all ages, the youth voters (ages 18-29) are among its most frequent users. It was this same vote that favored Obama over McCain back in 2008 by over 35 percent, according to polls done by, and was one of the key factors in Barack Obama’s victory.

SMU political science professor Joseph Kobylka says he doesn’t pay much attention to social media but did realize its importance.

“It seems that the candidate that is able to take advantage of it the most will win. Young people don’t tend to give much money to campaigns, but you can get them to vote,” said Professor Kobylka.

Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, released a video on his YouTube page titled “Proven Leadership” that is more like a movie trailer than the usual campaign ad, and has had over 2 million views. In it, Perry labels Obama as “President Zero”, as in zero job creation, and stresses that he is the one who can bring jobs back to America. Two other recently released videos by the Perry campaign have likened Mitt Romney to Barack Obama and highlighted his supposedly fickle nature on health care reform: the clips have over 300,000 views collectively. Perry, who also has a Facebook page with over 168,000 likes(friends), is focusing on ads to help strengthen his campaign.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has a Facebook page with over 1.1 million likes. The page is frequently updated with photos of himself on the campaign trail, along with awareness statuses highlighting the current state of the economy during the President’s tenure and the occasional campaign ad. Romney also has a twitter account with 150,000 followers and tweets much like his status updates. According to polls on, Romney leads all GOP Candidates in terms of money and overall social media support. Romney pulls 50 percent of nearly all GOP money, 45 percent of the Facebook audience for Republicans, and has had an 80 percent gain in popularity on Twitter.

Amie Kromis, a junior Public Affairs major at SMU, agreed with the recent social media polling.

“I think Romney has impressed me the most. He has run for president twice already so he’s been building up his social media ‘empire’,” Kromis said.

Herman Cain, a businessman from Atlanta, hopes to get the nation’s economy back on track with the implementation of his proposed “$999” Plan. He has recently taken a surge in the polls, passing Perry and catching up to Romney, emerging as a legitimate candidate for the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination. With 136,000 followers on Twitter and 300,000 likes on Facebook, The “Cain Train” Campaign as its been dubbed by supporters, has also made good use of social media. Cain recently released a video on YouTube that is making waves in the media and has been called both “brilliant” and “horrible”. In the video Cain’s chief of staff talks about Herman and why America should vote for him, while he smokes a cigarette. The clip has over 1.4 million views.

“Romney is supposedly the most visible and popular, yet he’s not substantially ahead. Cain’s the only one who’s consistently brought up his website during the debates and I think it’s working,” SMU junior Anthony Krow said.

Krow noted that the use of sites like YouTube and Twitter are necessary in today’s political world, but in the end it comes down to what the candidates are saying.

These candidates are not alone in wanting to find success with their campaigns through the popularity of the Internet. President Obama hopes his 2012 campaign will be just as successful as his previous one.

In 2008, Barack Obama’s campaign centered around brilliant speeches, the frequent use of the words “hope” and “change”, Facebook, and YouTube. Obama’s team didn’t even officially endorse videos like “Obama Girl” and “Yes We Can”, yet they still collectively garnered over 80 million views on YouTube and helped Obama’s rise in overall popularity. He has over 23 million likes on Facebook and an unrivaled 10 million followers on twitter. But since 2010, Obama has gradually gone down in national approval rating and is struggling to regain the momentum and popularity he had back in 2008.

“What he and his staff were able to do during his campaign was nothing short of amazing,” Vincent Powell, a former student at University of North Texas, said “It will be interesting to see if he can do it again.”

ELECTION BLOG: Dallas Democrats Take In the Loss

November 3, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Emily Kogan

The tone at the Democratic watch party was much different than it was in 2008. There was no hype. They were just hoping to hang on to their majorities in the House and the Senate.

The mood of the night could have been from the heavy rain in Dallas or it could have reflected the results of the midterm elections for the Democratic Party as a whole.

The race for Texas’ Governor had been tight between Rick Perry and Bill White until the very end. Perry’s anti-Washington message was an appeal to voters. Even after the early votes came in, Registered Democrat Jim White still thought anything could happen.

“I think everyone has a chance until it’s over,” White said. And when asked for his reaction after Perry was declared the winner White said, “If there wasn’t so much slander I think he would have stood a better chance.”

A young Democrat with the ironic name of Rick Perry was not excited when Perry was voted in for another term.

“I think it was time for him to go,” Perry said. “I think it was time for new leadership. Im sad, I’m disappointed.”

Edgar Negron, a member of the Dallas Association of Young Immigrants, was passionate about getting his vote in on November 2nd. He had a feeling White would not be the winner of last night’s election but still moved his scheduled flight home from New York up a day to go out and vote.

“It’s a matter of getting our point across,” said Negron.

The Daily Update: Wednesday, Nov. 3

November 3, 2010 by · Comments Off 

The Daily Update: Wednesday, Nov. 3 from on Vimeo.

Join us for details about Republicans taking back to U.S. House, the two SMU students’ names in the car accident names have been released, and we’ll tell you how long will the cold rainy weather be around in Dallas.

Election Blog VIDEO: Rick Perry (the Democrat) Says He’s ‘Sad’ Gov. Perry Re-elected

November 2, 2010 by · Comments Off 

10:06 p.m. – Democrat Watch Party at American Airlines Center
Video by Emily Kogan

A man with the same name as Gov. Rick Perry shared his disappointment with the results from the Texas governor’s race.

Rick Perry Talks Rick Perry from on Vimeo.

The Daily Update: Monday, Nov. 1

November 1, 2010 by · Comments Off 

The Daily Update: Monday, Nov. 1 from on Vimeo.

Find out about a worship service that was interrupted by lethal visitors, the Rangers lost and now it is down to the wire, and many people didn’t want to wait to cast their vote in midterm election.

Hutchison, Perry and White Address Issues Important to College Students

March 2, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Brooks Powell

The bid for Texas governor jumps into a new gear Tuesday as Texas voters head to the polls for the 2010 gubernatorial primary. This election is significant because many college students will cast ballots for the first time in a state-wide election for governor. (Rick Perry has served as the state’s chief executive since 2000 when he took over for George W. Bush.)

Candidates of all stripes have criss-crossed the state for months garnering votes and attention. Some of their trips have included stops on the Hilltop.

Students saw Libertarian gubernatorial candidates duke it out at their only Dallas debate in February.

Kay Bailey Hutchison spoke with Daily Mustang editor Sarah Acosta last semester and Governor Rick Perry visited SMU, both to talk about what they will do for college students.

Students also heard from Bill White, former Houston mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

White sat down for an on-camera interview to address issues important to college students. Click on the video below to watch Bill White and SMU-TV reporter Brooks Powell in an excerpt from the Tuesday, Feb. 16 edition of The Daily Update.

Read more

Opinion Blog: Deep in the Heart of Texas Politics

February 25, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Elizabeth Siebman

In Texas, Tea Party activists and Democratic Party candidates are sounding anti-incumbent messages. With a particularly vicious Republican primary election this year, the Texas GOP will need to quickly reunite after March 2, to maintain its prominence within the state.

Texas’ political landscape is predominately Republican Party red. The party controls both seats in the U.S. Senate, 20 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and over 130 seats statewide. After GOP wins in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts this past year, the Republican Party is positioning itself for numerous wins during the 2010 midterm elections nationally.

In a New York Times article from August 2009, the incumbent governor, Rick Perry, likened the election to a “civil war, brother against brother.” Perry wants to gain the votes of Tea Party activists by questioning the policies in Washington, at the executive and legislative level. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina, a newcomer to statewide politics and a Tea Party activist, are taking on the current governor for the nomination. Hutchison is campaigning against current Austin policies and politics and is hoping to gain momentum from independents and the anti-incumbent movement. However, Medina is winning support among Tea Party activists. Recently, polls show Medina holding around 20 percent of the vote. Republican debates have demonstrated this “brother against brother” mentality. Candidates point fingers regarding causes of problems but maintain that they can solve Texas’ issues.

However, while the Republicans fight against each other for nomination, Democrat candidates, Bill White, former major of Houston, and Farouk Shami, owner of the hair care organization Farouk Systems, are advocating for a change in Austin. They point to corruption at the executive level, a weakening education system, and problems that have not been solved within the current administration. The anti-incumbency fervor that has risen could prove useful for Democrats.

The civil war that has erupted over the governor’s position must come to an end and the sides must unite behind one candidate in order to reunify the Republican Party. The GOP needs to show voters that they represent Texas’ interests and they want to further those interests and produce results. If the sides do not reunite, then Texas might add a bit of blue to the political mixture in the November election.