Next President? Maybe Not. Queen of Twitter? You Betcha!
As Republican presidential hopefuls begin to descend on
outposts such as Ames, Iowa, and Nashua, New Hampshire, and the 2012 GOP primary
season begins to heat up, OhMyGov will be checking on the
leading Republican candidates and the ways they are using (or
misusing) social media to reach out to potential voters. Collectively, the field already boasts a respectable social media following, thanks to offices currently or previously held, prominent national campaigns, and no shortage of media exposure and part-time punditry. This running start will help counter the sizable bump that the sitting president will get from the White House social media pulpit, when the time comes to face off in the general election.
Here is a quick
rundown of the eight leading GOP candidates --- well, potential candidates as of today --- who are active on social media and what they have been up to on
Facebook and Twitter:
The Mississippi Governor has a
fairly healthy social media presence, with over 17,000 Facebook fans and
12,503 Twitter followers. Barbour's Facebook page mostly focuses around
his exploits as Governor with links to recent speeches and public appearances.
Meanwhile, Barbour's Twitter feed, which has steadily if slowly gained followers as he has been talked up as potential candidate, is a pretty standard stream of media
appearance updates and a place to test out conservative talking points about lower
taxes and gay marriage. Barbour has only tweeted about 300 times,
and it doesn't appear that he'll be breaking any records for followers or
mentions anytime soon.
Now Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana
is a guy who knows what he's doing when it comes to social media. Daniels'
Facebook page features everything from videos of speeches at the Conservative
Political Action Conference to updates on his recent shoulder surgery.
Unfortunately Daniels' Twitter feed doesn't quite live up to the uniqueness of
his Facebook page, as it appears to merely be a series of updates on Daniels' media
appearances and maintained by his staff. Daniels doesn't seem to be
apprehensive about being an outgoing social media figure, so it does seem a bit
curious that his Twitter feed seems to skew towards the bland. But with over
5,500 followers and around 500 tweets, the Governor isn't exactly ignoring the
140-characters-or-less crowd either.
While he might have some issues
getting people to take him seriously as Presidential timber, Gingrich is an
undeniably heavy hitter in the world of conservative social media. With over
118,000 Facebook fans and 1.3 million Twitter followers, when Gingrich
types...the right wing notices. The former Speaker's Facebook page features
promotional material for his latest book, constantly updated video and public
appearance schedules, and something called "Newt Chatter," which this writer
will not even attempt to define. As for Gingrich's Twitter page, it seems to be
another depository for Gingrich's seemingly endless musings on everything from abortion
to health care in addition to the expected dispatches for media
appearances and book signings. Not only does Gingrich maintain his own twitter,
but for those who can't get enough of life on Planet Newt there are also official
feeds maintained by his wife Callista and his newly-minted 2012
exploratory committee. And with over a million followers and over 2,200 tweets
under his belt, Gingrich shows no signs of slowing down as a Republican social
media force for 2012 and beyond as evidenced by the fact that since the beginning of March he has picked up a whopping 6,000+ Twitter followers.
The former Arkansas Governor and
current Fox News personality maintains a respectable social media presence with
over 133,000 Twitter followers and nearly 540,000 Facebook fans. Both pages
seem to focus on The Huck's promotional tour for his latest book, "A Simple
Government," and stick to book signing announcements and media appearances.
Huckabee, or at least an enterprising member of his staff, is not shy about
posting the requisite on-the-road tweets with nearly 1,600 to his credit (including this absolutely awesome one).
While recent controversial comments from Huckabee taking swipes at everyone
from President Obama to Natalie Portman may have drawn the ire of
some on the left, Huckabee's brand of southern-fried conservatism does seem to
have its fans as evidenced by the roughly 6,700 Twitter followers he has gained in March.
What can we say that hasn't already
been said about the Mama Grizzly of the Red
State netroots. Palin has caught
some heat for her Twitter exploits in the past, and many of her 800+
tweets focus on everything from Todd Palin's latest dog race (seriously) to
some "unique" takes on the recent developments in Egypt, to whatever this is supposed to be. Palin seems
to show no signs of slowing down when it comes to adding Twitter followers
either, with a net gain of over 22,000 over the first two and a half weeks of March. Love her or
hate her, people can't seem to get enough of Palin. It is on Facebook however
that Sarah Barracuda really shines. Over 2.7 million fans, the infamous videos,
and the notes...oh those notes! Whatever you think of Palin, her Facebook
page is not just an outlet for her views and beliefs, it is a pop culture
phenomenon all its own.
The former Minnesota Governor has
been touted for some time as a potential Republican nominee for 2012, and with
over 27,000 Twitter followers and over 73,000 Facebook fans it is clear that
some have begun to take notice of the Tea Party dark horse. Pawlenty's Facebook
page is a consistently updated stream of videos and links to make donations to
his PAC which is already on the ground in New Hampshire.
It is a solid Facebook presence, but Pawlenty might want to reconsider using a
photo of embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as his profile picture (as he had done up until recently), when
you aren't exactly a household name you might want people to actually, ya know,
see your face. Pawlenty's Twitter page, from which he's tweeted around 459 times, is
mostly focused on announcing public appearances and, again, expressing
support for Scott Walker. Again, Governor, friendly words of advice, in
politics its acceptable to talk about yourself every once in a while.
The presumptive GOP favorite for
2012 boasts a healthy (and growing) 815,000 Facebook fans and 30,000 Twitter followers; with net gains of roughly 16,000 Facebook fans and 2,000 Twitter followers in March. The
former Massachusetts Governor's Facebook page is a predictably slick operation,
with a welcome video, donation portal, and links to live streaming speeches and
events. Romney is not quite as strong a presence on Twitter, where many of his
360+ tweets are links to OpEd's he has written and the occasional TwitPic of
things like this. Either way, for this stage of the primary game Romney
appears to have laid a strong social media foundation to build upon in the
The former Pennsylvania Senator keeps
a fairly low social media profile, with around 5,600 Twitter followers and
13,260 Facebook fans. And yet, despite the relatively low number of followers
Santorum has maintained fairly active pages on both platforms. Santorum's
Facebook page features links to his writings, updates on his public appearance
schedule, and a portal to sign-up for e-mail updates from his PAC.
Meanwhile over at Santorum's Twitter feed, most of the former Senator's 670+
tweets are announcements of his media appearances and speaking engagements.
Pretty standard stuff, maybe it could use a little spicing up with one of his
admittedly awesome campaign ads from a few years back.
Photo Credit for Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum: Gage Skidmore