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A candidate’s visual image may not matter as much in the age of the iPhone

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:18 pm - November 9, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election,New Media

When I listend to the audio version of Ronald C. White’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, I saw that learned that his successors in the 1930s and the 1980s, the first Republican president understood the impact of new media. He was aware of the growing influence of newspapers and did what he could to earn favorable coverage.

In the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt used radio to get his message across. And erstwhile actor Ronald Reagan understood the importance of TV.

Now, a less capable executive than those three men has once again found electoral success using the new media of his day.

When on Monday, while doing cardio, I saw both presidential candidates on television, it was easy to tell which one was more presidential. Mitt Romney look confident and commanding, Obama insecure and angry.  Yet, the one who looked like a winner lost and the one who came across as a loser won.

Only as I read about how team Obama brilliantly used the internet and social networking to “micro-target” their supporters did I realize how much less significant were those televised.

Something else struck me as well; if it were not for the insane amount of cardio I do at the gym, I would get almost no news from television. Other people at gym are reading books on their Kindles or watching movies and surfing the web on their iPads. Perhaps, some are Facebook.  And perhaps like them, I get most of my news now from the Internet.

Seeing how Romney and Obama looked and acted, a good number of us thought that the Republican was headed to victory and the Democrat to defeat.  But, we underestimated that the impact of new media.  But, the Obama campaign did not; Democrats this year were far better at exploiting it to get their voters to the polls.

Unable to run on big issues, the Democrats, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina acknowledged they “had had to win this on the micro stuff“.

Seeing the Democrats’ success this time, Republicans won’t be caught flat-footed next year.  This will be the only year that Democrats the iPhone/Facebook advantage they did this cycle.

But, which side will be better at exploiting any new technologies which emerge in the interim?

It’s too bad we conservatives have lost Andrew Breitbart.  He could really help us find creative means to use new media.



  1. From what I’ve gathered, Team O may have used new media (micro-targeting) to increase their turnout, but Romney’s lack of turnout was the larger factor in his defeat.

    So yeah, a politician’s macro-image still matters.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — November 9, 2012 @ 10:41 pm - November 9, 2012

  2. Romney should have macro imaged himself better. Go where the low info voters go. He could have schmoozed the View audience by being the eye candy. Talked about family life with his wife and rambunctious sons. Women eat that sort of thing right up.
    It’s ashame he didn’t get the exposure because he turned out to be a decent honorable man. And as a conservative who is tuned in to politics, I didn’t know much about him until after the first debate and I watched the very end part when his sons and grandkids came up on stage and played in the balloons. I ate that up and I was not a fan previously.

    Comment by Annie — November 10, 2012 @ 1:25 am - November 10, 2012

  3. Then information trickled out about his life and charitable work.
    No way was the media going to let the people compare and make their own decision. It’s a damn shame.

    Comment by Annie — November 10, 2012 @ 1:29 am - November 10, 2012

  4. Obama voters were stockpiling tampons…

    Comment by Adriane — November 10, 2012 @ 2:07 am - November 10, 2012

  5. In my opinión Obsma then got micro mandates on gay marriage, war on women,
    big Bird,
    and so forth the question did he get a mandate in fundamentally transform America?

    Comment by Guy — November 10, 2012 @ 6:36 am - November 10, 2012

  6. sorry I ment micro mandates ….

    Comment by Guy — November 10, 2012 @ 6:37 am - November 10, 2012

  7. You are analyzing too much. The democrats can win with Jeffrey dahmer on the ticket by simply calling the other racists. Their voting base is comprised of petty people totally deprived of honor and shame.

    They talk about fat cats and wall street but never about Springsteen or Eva Longoria or Beyonce? They are good rich because they push their candidate Obama dahmer.

    cut all ties with leftists NOW. If you truly believe that conservativism, moderation, traditional values are the way, then deprive your leftist ‘friends’ of you presence, your assistance, your help. You will miss NOTHING, they will miss something.

    Second reason: your self esteem and health will improve.

    Comment by susan — November 10, 2012 @ 9:11 am - November 10, 2012

  8. ‘Talked about family life with his wife and rambunctious sons. Women eat that sort of thing right up.’

    there is a YouTube video of 3 min interview to all 5 Romney sons. They mostly talk about their mom and how she manage to cope with her disease. They don’t talk about politics or mitt.

    Read the comments below the video, it is full of vitriol towards the whole family (and towards a sufferer of ms).

    This is the kind of people on the other side. Have a thought on it and re-read my comment at n 7.

    Showing up at the view does not make a difference. Ann Romney went and she was vilified.

    Comment by susan — November 10, 2012 @ 9:18 am - November 10, 2012

  9. It is important to remember that Obama did not increase his turnout-its just that Romney didn’t get the McCain voters to the polls much less new ones.

    Both men failed, however as a percentage Obama failed more.

    That said, I do think there is a huge field of voters to glean from the internet. Like Dan I almost never watch TV news. About 10 years ago I would consume TV news, but now I prefer to get things from the internet and the reality is if something important happens on a news show, there is going to be some helpful blogger who will find the youtube clip, and let me watch that 2 to 3 minute segment rather than requiring me to watch a half hour or hour show to glean that important tidbit.

    Comment by Just Me — November 10, 2012 @ 9:31 am - November 10, 2012

  10. Obama campaign manager Jim Messina acknowledged they “had had to win this on the micro stuff by destryong a good, decent, honorable man with lies and smears.“


    Comment by V the K — November 10, 2012 @ 10:24 am - November 10, 2012

  11. “A candidate’s visual image may not matter…iPhone”

    It does when the candidate’s image is the iPhone. Handing out free phones was one of the Obama campaign’s strategies.

    Comment by Ignatius — November 10, 2012 @ 10:35 am - November 10, 2012

  12. I hear people moaning about the GOP proper; the party itself. Here is a suggestion. Find your local county committee. They probably do have a web site or your state party committee has a web site with a link to your county committee. Collect up some like-minded friends and JOIN it. Rather than sitting around waiting for “someone to do something”, make your influence felt. And I don’t mean going in there ranting and raving. The first thing is to listen. Find out what is being done and why. But actually become part of that party committee and over time make your influence felt and get others to join as well. If people feel that the party does not reflect the values of the people in the county, the way to change that is to have more people engage and move the party in the right direction.

    Sometimes it isn’t easy to find your county party, either. Mine in Santa Clara County, California is actually called SVGop or Silicon Valley GOP. You don’t realize it is the county committee until you get to the site at It costs $35 a year to join my county committee but that probably varies across the country. There are higher levels of membership for more money that get you invited to more things. Not sure I really like that idea thinking maybe those higher levels should be based more on merit than on money but that’s probably typical of politics these days.

    Comment by crosspatch — November 10, 2012 @ 1:21 pm - November 10, 2012

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