The other day on TechPresident.com, Micah L. Sirfry discussed the interesting argument on whether or not the media is inflating the impact that social media is having on the upcoming presidential election.
From followers “liking” candidates on Facebook to online fundraising contributions, is the action on the web really influencing the race to the Oval Office? Does every person on Twitter equate to a ballot submitted on Election Day?
Sirfy states that, “Politics isn’t only about voting; it’s more deeply about organizing to get and keep power. And the evidence that social media is helping organized groups get more power–sometimes more than their raw numbers might get them at the ballot box–is staring us in the face.”
At Fundly, we would have to agree with Sirfy. At the end of the 2010 election cycle, 120 political customers were using Fundly to raise money and currently our numbers show 10 times that amount. The campaigns have ranged from local races to the presidential efforts of Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and a Newt Gingrich PAC. Candidates also successfully raised $71 million for the 2010 midterm elections.
Now let’s move beyond dollars. Sirfy brings up the interesting point that the nomination for the Republican presidential candidate is still up in the air in large part because of the role that social media is playing in creating factions among the conservative party. There are dozens of groups on Facebook that are backing the politician of their choice and there is even a social network that has more than 168,000 users who are largely beyond the control of any Republican organization.
In an ironic turn of the internet, not only is technology bringing more people of like-mindedness together, it is dividing the GOP. While the Republican Party is getting a ton of press for the Super PACs that are changing the landscape of political fundraising, an arsenal of small donors are also equipping the candidates with the funds to pursue the office of Commander in Chief. “On Fundly, a social fundraising site, the Rick Santorum page has nearly 3,000 donors who have built personal fundraising pages generating an average of about $80 each. By contrast, Romney has two donors who have created personal fundraising pages on the site, one of whom is his son Tagg” sites Sirfry.
So let’s get back to the original question at hand: do high numbers on Facebook equal high numbers of voters at the polls?
When so many people have invested their time, finances and opinions concerning the political scene, I can’t imagine them abandoning the cause at the apex of the battle.