Going to harp on social media some today. Shoot the messenger if you want, but the media, some consultants and others have become completely enamoured with social media based on no evidence.
Hearst reporter, Richard Dunham, is crediting social media for Ted Cruz’s victory in the Texas Senate primary. According to Dunham and those quoted, social media allowed the campaign to communicate with voters and get them to the polls, citing his dominance over Dewhurst in Twitter and Facebook followers, even suggesting that social media helped him raise money, fend off the negative attacks, and neutralize his opponents money advantage (this last claim just seems patently silly, considering the amount of money outside groups poured in specifically to neutralize that advantage).
Ok, if it did all this, where is the data to support it? The problem is reporters, such as Mr Dunham, never explain how this occurs, because they don’t get any data to support these claims. We don’t know how many undecided voters are checking social media (a 2009 survey from Pew suggests it’s the politically active who are using social media, not undecided voters). There’s also know evidence that Cruz raised large sums through social media compared to more traditional methods of fundraising.
There is substantial evidence of a solid ground game by the Cruz campaign though, including evidence from Twitter, where activists would talk about how many people they had called, how many doors they had knocked on, etc. Not to mention, the phone banks and block walks set up by FreedomWorks, the Tea Party Express, etc. which aided Cruz’s efforts.
To put so much emphasis on social media for the success of the Cruz campaign (or any other campaign) undermines the hard work that actually went into winning and will always go into campaigning. And I will say this until I am blue in the face: these are good tools, but they haven’t changed the game, which has always been about voter contact and touching as many voters as possible (e.g., the Obama campaign has new app that is a great use of technology for GOTV). And when you consider that Facebook advertising, as well as other Web advertising - pushed by many social media consultants - declines in value every quarter (Source), you’re best bet for reaching voters (who aren’t fake) is to stick with the time tested methods.