Friday, November 9, 2012

The Wrong Battlefield

We fought hard. We were vocal. We stood up and were counted, to the tune of 35,000 at one campaign rally. We had the enthusiasm. We had the truth on our side. We left everything on the field.

So why did we lose?

We were fighting on the wrong battlefield.

The real fight for hearts and minds was happening on twitter.

Does that make you snicker? Maybe you're not part of the digital generation and don't see the value in social media at all. Or maybe, since you're here, you do see the value in certain types of social media, but 140-character status updates just aren't your cup of tea. Not substantive enough. Not enough space to say something that really matters. Just another place to throw out a status update.

Besides, there are so many idiots on twitter.

Guess who decided this election...

I'll give you a hint. Barack Obama made social media history, according to The Guardian, Tuesday night when he tweeted this and it was re-tweeted by followers more than 700,000 times... by the following morning.

Four More Years... re-tweeted 791,215 times
The unprecedented viral success of the post confirmed the role that social media played in the US presidential campaign, and abroad.
There were more than 31 million election-related tweets on Tuesday night, making election night "the most tweeted about event in U.S. political history," Twitter spokeswoman Rachael Horwitz told Reuters. 

But wait a minute, isn't Mitt Romney on twitter, too? Yes! In fact, there are over a dozen official twitter profiles associated with Mitt Romney, his road team, his VP, his first lady, his campaign staff.

Unfortunately, as would be true for any challenger, he had nowhere near as many followers on twitter or facebook as the sitting president. Today, Mitt Romney's official twitter page has 1,778,351 and Barack Obama has 22,933,844. That disparity surely impacts the personal reach of each politician for getting important messages out to the people. There's no way Mitt Romney could have come close to Barack Obama's tweet reach, not without a lot of help from tweeters.

I don't mean to imply there were no conservatives on twitter. There are some incredibly intelligent, prolific twitterers spreading the conservative word on twitter. And there's, where Michelle Malkin compiles left-leaning tweets for conservatives to respond. That certainly gets conversations going.

But it isn't enough. Not in quantity and not in efficacy.

Many, many conservative commentators, professional and lay, lamented the negative, juvenile tone of this election. For goodness sake, our PRESIDENT called his opponent a BS-er, and his close friend Beyonce tweeted post-election, "Take that, Mitches." This is not high-brow. If we want to change the culture in our country (and the WORLD), a good place to start is twitter. And if we want to change the culture on twitter, we need to be there.

Rock the Vote was there.

Congratulations! Against all odds and because of our work and the collective power of our generation, we were heard!
The pundits are talking about the winners and losers. We think that’s a stupid f*cking idea. Let’s talk about this: Last night, we proved that we are engaged, we vote, and that we are a political force that cannot be ignored.
They're right. They should not be ignored. According to Huffington Post, young voters (18-29) represented a record 19% of the electorate, one point up from 2008. Guess how much of that Barack Obama got? 60%. The disparity between young voters in the two parties is shrinking, but not fast enough for this growing voting demographic. If they are going to come out in greater and greater numbers, we had better make sure they aren't voting with their #ladyparts -- or manparts, for that matter.

It's discouraging to see our election decided by so many less-informed people. I don't mean to imply that all young people or all liberal Democrats are uninformed. Some of my dear friends are very intelligent liberals who I believe are simply wrong in their views. But the tenor on twitter isn't helping those who don't care to delve deeper.

After CNN called the election for Barack Obama, I told my husband my days as a political activist were over. I know many conservatives immediately unfriended their liberal friends on facebook.

Even though our initial reflex may be to retreat from liberal Democrats, exactly the opposite is what we must do. The election results indicated a D+6 majority in the United States. This is a new trend from 2008, and it has not diminished. In order to change it, we will need to run toward liberal Democrats, meet them on their turf... on the right battlefield.

According to TechCrunch, twitter passed 500 MILLION users in June 2012, 140 MILLION of which are in the United States. We cannot afford not to be part of this conversation.

It is a daunting task ahead of us, and it requires us to dig deeper, not remain complacently in our conservative echo chambers., while fun, is not going to cut it. There's a place for political comedy, for snark. But there is a desperate need for truth offered up with pure intent. 

Tips for tweeting effectively about politics:
  • include links to longer articles
  • use popular hash tags, which put things into categories for easy searching (#hurricanesandy)
  • include pictures, memes with quotes (but avoid the snark as much as possible)
  • shorten quotes by wise conservatives (Wrenn's Reagan quotes are a great start, as are Milton Friedman quotes)
  • if you have more to say than fits in one tweet, use (1/3) and (2/3) to indicate the order for readers
  • follow and retweet interesting twitter users
  • engage in discussions by replying to tweets, but keep it respectful

When twitter overloads from all the activity, you get a screen that looks like this:

Affectionately termed the FailWhale, this is the perfect illustration of our daunting task as conservatives in social media. The whale represents the masses of people thirsting for knowledge during this drought of truth we're currently experiencing as a society. The birds? Well, that's you and me... if we're up to the challenge.

Spare a thought, meanwhile, for Romney. His last tweet – sent before he accepted defeat in a gracious speech to the Republican faithful – read: "With your help, we will turn our country around and get America back on the path to prosperity."
Since then his account has been silent. - The Guardian

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BOSMAN said...

Welcome Katrina,

I'm probably as guilty as the next guy.

I've always put more emphasis on Face book and the 50 or so groups RS belongs to. Much of the traffic we get stems from there.

I'm glad we have a resident expert for twitter now. Maybe you can help spread RS efforts on Twitter and we can lead by your example.

Jrterrier5 said...

I have a different take. We didn't lose because of twitter. The people on twitter are the same intelligentsia that live on the coasts. They did not win the election for Obama.

We lost because in certain districts in every inner city there was near 100% voting with nearly 100% of the votes going to Obama,e.g. Philly, Cleveland, etc, which cancelled out the votes in the suburbs of those very cities. Either that base of voters really came out for the President in higher %s than in 2008 or there was voter fraud that cancelled out the other numbers. PA & OH, 2 key states are case studies. I don't believe that Cuban-Americans went 45% for Obama in Florida. Doesn't make sense that those #s increased by 14% points from 2008; no demographic increased so drastically.

I'm leaning toward voter fraud.

Unless someone explains to me in a logical manner how George W Bush receives more votes from Mormons than the first Mormon candidate for President, I'm going to believe there is something wrong with the tally.

And young people were driven to Obama by the "war on women" meme that included the contraceptive brohaha & the abortion/rape comments by Akin & Murdoch coupled with Romney's comments about abolishing planned parenthood) particularly unmarried females.

Also the Dream Act Executive Order & the evolving position on same-sex marriage drove the numbers toward Obama.

Right Wingnut said...


Lots of cross posting might help too. I will try to cross post to Redstate and C4P as much as possible. I refuse to be a spammer, so I will be cross posting the posts in their entirety, so they won't have to click the link to read it all, but it might help.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Thanks, Bos. I decided to risk my writing career and just post in my real name.

I'll be tweeting as Oxblood Angel. This is a new account, but I intend to lead by example. It isn't just intelligentsia from the east coast on twitter. If you check out twitchy, you'll see some of the basest parts of society are also there, posting looting invitations in Sandy, posting assassination calls for Mitt Romney, and generally laughing about things they don't understand #binders, #BigBird, and #ladyparts.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our work cut out for us. Thanks for reading!

Right Wingnut said...

We need to give people a reason to stick around. I assume many of the hits over the last several months were "one and dones," who came here to watch a video, or read about a poll.

BOSMAN said...


Some of that. Google searches have been good for us also. 60% of our traffic comes from there.

Anonymous said...

We all need to unite. Maybe, the Tea Party on twitter and get every conservative web site and party members on there.

Anonymous said...

I agree that social media is huge but the Dems ran a very effective target marketing campaign incorporating social media and tools like twitter,FB,Hollywood,MSM;all of the late night comedians were preaching Obama talking points while slamming Mitt Romney and the GOP. All of their talking points were consistent and they were repeated over and over again. Their lies became truth to the useful idiots.
The Dems were able to organize their ground force with the help of 400,000 Union members in battle ground states to get the vote out. I also heard Obama's team was in Ohio since the last election, since they knew that Ohio would be a crucial state for Romney.

Obama's team defined Romney as the super rich out of touch,cold hearted business man who only cared about the 1%. I also believe there was substantial voter fraud as well.

I personally have a very sick feeling in the pit of my stomach regarding any potential chances of winning the White house.

Alot of things will have to happen,the RNC needs to start organizing now and the GOP candidate needs to be selected much earlier, so they can raise money and team with the RNC on effective messaging. Romney,unfortunately got a late start and had to focus on fund raising in the early months.

We can not have candidates like AKIN and Mourdok. I really think their comments had a major affect on the outcome of the presidential election.

cimbri said...

This article says we won young white voters.

The problem is race, whether it's the young vote or the gender gap. Take black women out of the equation, there is no gender gap. I just want to make sure we are concentrating on the right problem.

Pam said...

I think social media does play a role especially during this election cycle, but that's not what lost it for us. I do agree with some of the comments here. Voter fraud did play a role and the foot in mouth senate candidates didn't help but the biggest reason why is plainly hurricane Sandy and Chris Christie bending over backwards to be too complimentary to Obama. That's it.

Right Wingnut said...

Why hasn't even one Romney supporter suggested that perhaps Romney may have made a mistake or two. Why is it the fault of everyone else?

Katrina L. Lantz said...

RWN, nobody is infallible. But I think most of us saw that Romney gave it his all. He worked harder than any candidate we've had in a long time. Many factors ended up being out of his control. Besides that, it's not useful to blame someone or something entirely.

My post here isn't meant to blame our lack of twitter activity entirely for the failure of democracy. It's meant to explain what I see as a big factor - the gap in conversation between the digital native generation and the generations before them. Going forward, this digital generation is going to play a larger and larger role in elections, even past the age of 30. The new normal is not cable or satellite TV. I agree with the comment here that said we need to be more innovative in our outreach, both on the ground and through media, new and old.

Right Wingnut said...


I said nothing about his work ethic. Others are blaming everyone else but the candidate himself. Ultimately, it was his responsibility to get the conservative base to the polls, and he did not.

Nobody has been more critical of Romney than I have, but I still voted for him. I always vote. I always vote for the Republican. A decent size chunk of the party are not reliable voters. Too many of them stayed home.

Right Wingnut said...

I don't wish to play the blame game either, but the past few days have been hard to take, with everyone being blamed but the candidate and his campaign. Even several Palin supporters are doing it.

cimbri said...

RW, most of the "mistakes" Romney made, were done in the process of trying to appease the hard right.

Bottom line, it's our team vs. their team. Their team was stronger for any number of reasons.

Pam said...

I'm actually angrier at the people that sat on their butts in the republican party and refused to vote because we supposedly didn't have a perfect candidate. We will never have anyone that is 100% flawless. That is not the way God created us. Everyone has flaws and people just need to accept it.

Anonymous said...

Romney lost, Obama won. Rubio2016!

Anonymous said...

Katrina welcome and thanks for jumping in to offer some new 'blood' of ideas & thoughts. While I'm not a tweeter, I understand where you're coming from. Conservatives must attract those that are young & tech saavy to pick up the torch.

Let's hope we can see through the fog of the battlefield to take our objective. Having a set back will just strengthen us for the next fight. Let's lick our wounds and move on.