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#Twitter & Elections

Andrew Ikeman | News Editor

THIS NOVEMBER, THE citizens of the United States of America will flock to the polling stations to either re-elect their current president or elect a new one. Many people base their vote on how the candidate is portrayed by the media. Since the 2008 U.S. election, one specific social media platform has exploded: Twitter.

The Democrats used sarcastic humour to insult Romney, while the Republicans used strong worded accusations to hurt Obama.

During the 2008 election, Barack Obama was able to skillfully craft a social-media-based campaign push, which was so effective it turned him into a celebrity. In this campaign, however, both Democrats and Republicans have been able to manipulate Twitter users into advancing their own goals. Seemingly with each passing day of the campaign, a new trend on twitter emerges, and politicos on both sides weigh in on almost every possible angle of this election. Twitter has essentially made pundits out of all of us.

Maybe the most incredible part of all this is that the trends are generally dichotomous. For example, one day #IAmNotADemocratBecause—which was started by Mitt Romney supporters—was trending, and within a few minutes, #IAmNotARepublicanBecause—which began with Obama supporters—also began trending. One common theme of these tweets is that the ones that attack Mitt Romney often allude to things like his time at private equity firm Bain Capital, or his billionaire status, while the trends that attack Obama are based solely on his record in the past four years.

No matter what the trend was, the styles were the same: the Democrats used sarcastic humour to insult Romney, while the Republicans used strong worded accusations to hurt Obama. A quick look at these trends would suggest the American electorate has been able to better inform itself on the issues and candidates than in previous campaigns. If one candidate should say something—about anything at all—it is trending on Twitter within moments. It would seem as though we are entering a new age of information.

This recent trend of immediate judgment of political candidates will likely become the norm in the United States and Canada. With the Quebec election approaching, we will see trends popping up that could potentially make or break a campaign. Better brush up on your hashtags.