House Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) may come off as yet another
stiff politician, but he's been anything but stiff when it
comes to dominating social media.
The former Mormon missionary has made a good job of selling
himself on social media, earning him a total
31,780 Facebook fans and 13,564 followers on Twitter. Yet his mastery of Web
2.0 goes beyond friend requests and tweets. The conservative reformer is
tremendously influential online, with a Klout rating of 50 and a core
audience of 3,000 plus users on the social networking service.
That audience will come in handy this fall, as Flake faces
off against real estate guru Wil Cardon for retiring politician Jon Kyl's
Senate seat. Cardon has the
money--the developer spent $4 million of his
own money to kick off his campaign--yet Flake has the endorsements, including
vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who endorsed Flake over the Tea
Party-backed Cardon July 23rd.
"The United States Senate needs a leader like Jeff
Flake," Palin said in a statement
released by the Flake campaign the same day. "Jeff is a proven conservative crusader, and today I am
proud to announce my support for his campaign to become the next U.S. Senator
from the great state of Arizona."
On the social media front, Cardon is making an effort to
counter Flake's online messaging campaign. The Republican primary candidate has
set up two Twitter accounts, @Cardon2012
and a separate account, @wilcardon--with
a combined following of 3,524 users between them.
"Follow my U.S. Senate campaign @Cardon2012 #azright
#azgop," Cardon tweeted on his personal account--two months after he
formally announced he was throwing his name in the ring.
The two candidates are evenly matched on the Web, with
Cardon mustering up an impressive Klout
rating of 49. Cardon is
particularly influential when it comes to the topics of health care reform
and--strangely--photography. But according
Clear Politics polling, Flake is smoking Cardon by 42 percentage points to
Cardon's 20. The victor in the
Republican primary will go on to face former Surgeon General Richard Carmona,
who is running on the Democratic side.
In a head-on match with Carmona, Flake trounces the
Democratic candidate--who has a modest
Twitter following by comparison--by at least nine points. Cardon in comparison
isn't as able to close the deal with Arizona voters, with neither candidate
getting the majority needed to win the election outright.
With four weeks to go before primary day, Cardon has miles
to go if he's to translate his online campaign into votes at the polls. Yet the
candidate is pulling out all the fundraising stops, replete with dinners
cash to spare.
Flake is more
than prepared for the onslaught of cash--with over 4 million dollars raised
and over 2 million in cash on hand according to opensecrets.org.