04 January 2008

Iowa, Voter Turnout, and Social Media

This may be blasphemy, but the big story out of Iowa last night is NOT Barack Obama or Mike Huckabee.

It's that turnout exceeded expectations on both sides, but dramatically for the Democrats, where young people - yes, the kids voted - came out for the Democratic winner in droves. And social media had something to do with the winner on each side.

I wrote yesterday about Obama's use of social networks to reach out to voters and how his strategy focused on college kids, even though colleges were closed for winter break. The virtual push led to physical action. Young voters were the biggest chunk of support for Obama by far. In fact, some polling I saw last night said only 18 percent of his support came from seniors - that's definitely something he'll have to work on.

Huckabee's victory just proves Brian Solis' theorem - social media isn't so much about technology as it is sociology. Huckabee won because he had extremely strong support from one community - evangelicals. And he asked that community to talk with each other about his campaign. And those church communities used email effectively to spread the word about the campaign - despite being outspent 15-1 (according to Huckabee) in mainstream ads. (sheesh, I guess email isn't "dead" after all.)

Of course, turnout was also clearly generated from the massive financial investments made by the Obama, Clinton, and Romney campaigns. But I'm really blown away by the turnout on the Dem side. Think about it - the third place finisher for the Dems received twice as many votes as the winner of the GOP caucus. And remember, Iowa is basically a "red state."

Social media played a role here - not the dominant role, but it looks like it was a factor in galvanizing and energizing support from a sector of the electorate that hasn't historically participated with vigor.


Brian Solis said...

Thanks for calling that out. It's right. At a grander level, true experts in Social Media marketing will realize that it's also about anthropology and the study of cultures with sociology supporting the engagement.

It's all about "going native."

mothergoosemouse said...

Likewise, I was most impressed by the turnout, and particularly the disparity between Rep and Dem turnout.

David said...

Thanks Brian - you're really leading that discussion.

David said...

MGM - we'll see if turnout is similarly large - and young - for Obama in NH. if it is, watch for the campaigns to shift their perspectives toward social media.