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.