04 February 2008

Social Media's First True Campaign 2008 test

Super Tuesday is tomorrow (have I mentioned we'll be live-blogging and tracking others as they live-blog over on Virtual Vantage Points? have I mentioned you should follow "SuperTuesday" on Twitter?) and the campaigns have been pushing into overdrive across the country. Candidates have been aligning their travel schedules to fit the time zones, placing surrogates to address individual constituencies, and filling the airwaves with more television ads than most voters probably want.

But in a national primary campaigns have to use all the tools at their disposal. TV ads may have diminishing returns. Candidates can only be in one place at a time, and surrogates typically don't have the same impact as a candidate's presence. This is exactly the moment the campaigns should be leveraging social media tools to pump up turnout, provide information on polling places, identify and manage problems, and even prepare for the next races. By my read Senator Obama's campaign has used social media the most and the best, and it's reflected in the turnout from young voters. They'll need that tomorrow, particularly in California.

My take on social media tomorrow, however, isn't about turnout per se. I'm going to look at how communities you wouldn't necessarily think of as inherently political discuss the primary and if they use their blogs or networks to get more involved. I'm particularly interested in the environmental community, which I haven't heard much about in the debates or from mainstream media. I'll be looking at them over the course of the evening and passing along any nuggets of wisdom I find.

I'm also going to compare and contrast the discussions from political bloggers in different states, to see if national issues are truly the driving topics or if there are state-based issues playing a leading role.

It all starts tomorrow at Virtual Vantage Points and at SuperTuesday on Twitter.

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