Spin Cycle

08.15.12

Obama's Online Victory

He beats Romney in social media, but does that matter?

President Obama is creaming Mitt Romney in one increasingly important arena—the digital campaign.

The Obama team, admittedly with a four-year head start, is far more engaged in social media, says a new report from the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Obama has 27 million Facebook likes to 2.9 million for Romney. The president has 18 million Twitter followers; the former Massachusetts governor has 787,000. And Obama videos have been viewed 207 million times on YouTube, compared to 15 million for Romney.

Obama is engaged in more careful targeting than in 2008. Users can sign up for 18 different groups, from Native Americans to Jewish Americans.

During a June period studied by the group, the Obama camp averaged 69 Twitter posts each day, compared to one for the Romney side.

There are striking differences in emphasis. Twenty-four percent of the online content from the Romney campaign was about the economy, versus 19 percent from Obama. But Romney, with a laser focus, devoted twice as much attention as the president to jobs. The president’s emphasis was almost equally divided between jobs and broader economic matters such as investing in the middle class—an obvious reaction to the stubbornly high unemployment rate.

“If presidential campaigns are in part contests over which candidate masters changing communications technology, Barack Obama on the eve of the conventions holds a substantial lead over challenger Mitt Romney,” the report says.

The unknown factor is whether liking and following a candidate will actually spur people to vote, or simply amounts to online chatter.President Obama is creaming Mitt Romney in one increasingly important arena—the digital campaign.