Social Media and the Vote

By Nicole Mastrangelo

Even if you didn’t have a chance to watch the first presidential debate last night, you were fully aware that #BigBird was trending on Twitter, and we’re sure you probably at least investigated that. As to be expected during this crucial pre-vote time period where both presidential candidates, Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, are spending every second of the day in a public appearance or giving a speech, people were taking to social media during the debate to share their thoughts. After a comment that Govenor Romney shared about a plan to cut funds for public television, including PBS and the popular children’s program Sesame Street, millions of young voters posted, tweeted and texted about their outrage. Even though one could say that these (possibly first time voters) were picking out the smallest piece of a highly informative and intense debate, at least we know that they were watching. With the idea of “second screen” television and social media so easily available for this election, it’s not surprising that politics and the vote are focusing more towards their digital presence than ever before.

Keeping up in real time:

Youtube, UStream, HuffPost Live and C-SPAN.com are just some of the websites and forums where real time streams and live discussion was happening around the presedential debate last night. Each platform here offered a solution to those who were unable to watch the debate on TV, but really what they did was take the debate off the live screen and into a life size discussion. More and more college students are watching television online and posting important political events like this for them to see is exactly what needs to be done for a “millennial” reaction. Another go-to platform for real time results is, of course, Twitter. There was plenty of Twitter discussion around the debate, as there has been involving the general election over the past few months. Each candidate simply needs to have a Twitter handle that restates their “zingers” and other comments in order to keep up with the discussion already taking place.

Turning the discussion into a virtual vote:

More important then the campaign itself for each candidate is obviously the vote and those who actually make it out to the polls in support. Here, unfortunately is where some of the momentum seems to drop off, and here is exactly where social media has been picking up the slack. In an age of complete digital dependency some people may find it strange that we still can’t vote online, but that doesn’t mean that we still can’t “pledge” online. With apps like Facebook-CNN I’m Voting App and WeforPresident, people are pledging to make their decision on voting day and spread the word to their friends and family by posting about it on their social media page.

No matter which way you think you’re voting come November 6, you should at least take some time to join in the conversation online. With 2008 being arguably the first “social election,” it is a fact that 2012 has brought in the “even more social vote” with constant coverage and support for those coming out to support their country next month.

What is your favorite platform online for keeping updated on all of the political discussion?