Obama outpacing Republicans in Internet race

Aug 15, 2012
An attendee takes a photo with her cell phone as US President Barack Obama speaks during a "Twitter Town Hall" in the East Room of the White House. Obama's campaign team is proving again in 2012 to be more conscious than rival Republicans are of the power of the Internet, particularly Twitter, a study released Wednesday said.

US President Barack Obama's campaign team is proving again in 2012 to be more conscious than rival Republicans are of the power of the Internet, particularly Twitter, a study released Wednesday said.

With online communications set to be even more important than in 2008, when Obama raised the bar on targeting voters and donors via the Internet, the said he is dominating the 2012 digital campaign stakes.

While Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney's team averaged one per day, Obama averaged 29 tweets -- 17 on @BarackObama (the Twitter account associated with his presidency) and 12 on @Obama2012 (the account associated with his campaign), during the research study period.

"Obama holds a distinct advantage over Romney in the way his campaign is using to communicate directly with voters," said a statement from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Obama also had about twice as many blog posts on his campaign website than did Romney and more than twice as many YouTube videos, researchers said.

But perhaps more crucially, the Obama campaign is using digital means to target key groups such as , women voters -- a problem area for Romney -- and young Americans, all of whom are vital to winning a US election.

For example, visitors to Obama's website are offered the chance to join 18 different groups, among them African-Americans, women, and Gay or Lesbian voters.

If a visitor joins such a group, they then receive targeted content, the Pew report said, but the Romney offered no such groups at the time the study was conducted.

"It has since added feature pages for nine groups, although users can still only join the general 'Team Romney' rather than the particular voter group," said the report.

PEJ director Tom Rosenstiel said an effective online strategy in 2012 was likely to bear electoral fruit, though a conclusive gain is tough to pin down.

"While more digital activity does not necessarily translate into more votes, historically candidates who are first to exploit changing technology have an advantage," said Rosenstiel.

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