This weeks readings focused largely on the impact that social networking sites have on political campaigns. In the 2008 election, Barack Obama largely employed social media such as Facebook to further his messages to the public (Steinhauer). Obama had a leg up on this election due to this social networking usage, and it really put Republicans at a disadvantage because they weren’t as savvy with social media, something that has been proven to help (or hinder) a political campaign in the modern era. People, especially under the age of 30, are increasingly relying on social media for political information, and even those over 30 have begun to use it more and more (Nielsen).
Nielsen argues, however, that social media usage in political campaigns is not the “end all, be all” for winning; it has an impact, definitely, but cannot be purely relied upon to get the message out there. This seems to differ from Steinhauer’s point that social media was integral in Obama’s political campaign in terms of raising money, rallying support, and recruiting volunteers. And in response to this great success, Republicans quickly mobilized to catch up to the Democratic’s savviness in social media employment. These two theories seem contradictory, but both authors do understand that social media does play a role in political campaigns. The authors just differ on the size of that impact.
What I have to wonder is, does social media have as big of an impact as stated by Steinhauer, or less of an impact as a “mundane tool” as theorized by Nielsen? Is social media a “make it or break it” thing for political campaigns?