September 5, 2012 •
Social Media on the Campaign Trail
Republicans and Democrats battle to be the most present on social media platforms
As the United States continues to follow the 2012 presidential candidates down the campaign trail, social media is playing an ever growing role in both campaigns.
During the 2008 election, the use of social media by President Obama was considered innovative and a significant contributing factor to his success. While he is still hard at work to keep his title as the most social media savvy politician (even having a 50-state Twitter campaign), Republicans are catching up.
There now seems to be an ever-present competition going on between Republicans and Democrats, each trying to get the most traffic and largest response to their continuously updated social media platforms.
Although, the Democratic National Convention is still going on, it is already very apparent that this competition has extended with full force to both parties’ respective national conventions.
According to this article provided on Mashable, social media was dominated by GOP related traffic during their convention. There were over 4 million tweets and over 2.5 million YouTube views, as well as 300,000 streaming video hours.
Not to be outdone, an app created by ABC will provide a continuous news flow this week of the Democratic National Convention, including three live streams for mobile and desktop.
An interesting consequential outcome to the rising importance of social media in political campaigns is the rising competition among social media platforms to be the most innovative and utilized source.
It will be interesting to see which party comes out as the social media winner after all the statistics are tallied up for the DNC.
December 30, 2011 •
Political Satire Group Celebrates Its 30th Year
The Capitol Steps Perform Satire About Political Scandals
A group that began as entertainment meant to spice up one holiday party thrown by then Illinois Senator Charles H. Percy in 1981 evolved into the well known political satire troupe called “Capitol Steps”.
The Capitol Steps have performed in every U.S. state and several different countries. They have earned their fame by writing satire and performing it while the news and scandals it is based on are circulating through the nation.
When the group first decided to pursue the transition from a one-time party performance to a political satire troupe, one founder, Elaina Newport said,
“We thought, if we add some Democrats, some House people, spread the risk around and make fun of everybody, maybe we’ll get away with this.”
No one is immune from becoming the next muse for the Capitol Steps. They have songs about the presidents who have served since the establishment of the group including their song about George W. Bush called “Don’t Go Faking You’re Smart,” a duet with a Laura Bush singing to her husband. His response: “I couldn’t if I tried.”
Even if they have bruised a few egos along the way, Capitol Steps is an accepted and loved part of the political culture. As long as they have scandal and breaking news they can use as inspiration, it doesn’t look like they are going anywhere.
Read “Capitol Steps Turn 30” from the Washington Post.
December 30, 2011 •
Automated Robocalls Remain Restricted in Indiana
Requiring a live operator does not violate the right to free speech.
Thursday’s 4-1 decision by the Indiana Supreme Court upholds the Indiana law that restricts automated robocalls.
The court determined that requiring a live operator did not violate the right to free speech.
View the original press release, “State supreme court upholds Indiana robocall law” from the Associated Press.
December 29, 2011 •
Republicans Turn to Social Media as Primaries Approach
Campaigns Utilize Social Media Now More Than Ever
Even something as small as following a candidate on Twitter or liking a candidate’s Facebook page could make someone feel more connected to that candidate and sway them to cast a vote in their direction. While a large portion of voters still claim to be undecided about who they are voting for in the upcoming Republican primaries, this is what Republican candidates are hoping to accomplish by dedicating so many resources to keeping their social media outlets up to date and engaging.
As the Iowa and other early caucuses are coming ever closer, GOP presidential hopefuls are turning more and more to their Twitter, Facebook, and other social media tools to get their messages out to voters and to gather volunteers.
After the success of President Obama’s grassroots social media based campaign back in 2008, social media has been an increasingly important tool that many consider necessary for the success of a political campaign, a fact which nearly all Republican presidential hopefuls have grasped and acted upon.
Read about all the ways the Republican presidential candidates have been utilizing social media in “Republicans Shake More Hands Using Social Media” from the New York Times.
December 29, 2011 •
2012 Campaign Spending Expected to Top $100 Million in Michigan
Special interests are expected to be big donors in upcoming elections.
Spending in Michigan’s upcoming Congressional and state Supreme Court elections could be near $100 million in 2012.
The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United case in 2010 which made it possible for special interest groups to spend unlimited funds supporting thier candidates of choice has caused an explosion of campaign related spending that is becoming more apparent while more and more campaigns are underway.
Now that those who have large amounts of money can freely support campaigns with any amount of money, money from special interests is expected to make up a large proportion of the overall total campaign spending in the upcoming elections.
Read this article by Angela Wittrock to learn more.
December 29, 2011 •
Campaign Finance Reporting Rule Issued for Colorado
2012 primary candidates must begin filing biweekly campaign-finance reports Jan. 30
A rule issued Tuesday, December 27th by Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler requires candidates who plan on being in Colorado’s 2012 primary election to begin filing biweekly campaign-finance reports January 30th. This rule was issued with a statement saying that the Secretary of State hopes that the issue will be taken up by the General Assembly when they convene.
After the primary date was moved earlier this year from August to June by the General Assembly, Gessler altered the filing deadlines, initially adopting rules that would require biweekly reporting to begin next September and until then, reports to be filed either quarterly or monthly.
State lawmakers argued that Gessler didn’t have the authority to change the reporting schedule, and this month the Legal Services Committee voted to not include this rule on the grounds that Gessler had overstepped prompting this issuance of the new rule.
The rule issued Tuesday says candidates are not required to file retroactive reports covering July through December 2011.
To learn more, read this article by Sara Burnett.
December 28, 2011 •
Like Fantasy Football? Check Out Fantasy Politics!
Create your own custom political team and compete in your league
A new Facebook application called Fanitics, expected to be functioning at the start of the new year, will allow users to compete against others with their fantasy political teams in a similar way as they would compete in fantasy sports games.
Fanatic’s creator, Todd Bouldin explained,
“It’s a lot like fantasy football. You create a league and friends populate it with teams. Your team is populated with politicians who gain points based on a variety of metrics from fundraising, media mentions and public appearances.”
Once you create your team, you can switch out politicians as you wish. Your team can include presidential candidates, governors, and House and Senate members whose actions are all tracked by the game.
Although, the game will probably be utilized more by political buffs early on, this game offers a great learning experience and tool to keep up on local politicians to all participants.
To learn more, read this article.
December 23, 2011 •
What is the True Cost of Christmas?
How much money would you need to buy all the gifts in the “12 Days of Christmas”?
Every year since 1984, PNC Bank has launched a version of “The True Cost of Christmas”, the bank’s annual Christmas Price Index. The 2011 report takes the viewer through a Winter Wonderland with interactive train stations that allow the viewer to find the different gifts of the “12 Days of Christmas.”
If you stop at the Inflation Station, the price of every gift since 1998 is provided, as well as the change in price that occurred from last year. The prices range from $58 for eight maids-a-milking to $6,294.03 for nine ladies dancing.
The Christmas Price Index hit a record $24,263 this year, but that isn’t even the “true cost of Christmas.” The true cost of Christmas includes a total of 364 gifts spread out over 12 days as described in the Christmas carol, which this year would cost you $101,119.84 – of course a gift to your true love is definitely worth that, right?
The Atlantic created a graph of the development of the true cost of Christmas, and it shows that excluding a steep decline in 1994, the “true price of Christmas” has been steadily rising and reaching record highs nearly every year. How much will you have to pay for your true love in 5 years?!
Even though I doubt many people are going to spend that amount of money to recreate the “12 days of Christmas” for someone, it is fun to see how a Christmas Carol that has been around for hundreds of years applies to the 21st century.
Happy Holidays everyone!
December 23, 2011 •
Let It Snow!
Satellite Images Show Snowfall on Earth for Last 10 Years
Below is a video released by NASA that shows the pattern of snowfall across the globe every month for a 10 year period beginning in February of 2000 and ending last month.
The observations were collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.
To learn more, read this article by Samantha Murphy from Mashable.
December 21, 2011 •
Hackers Threaten to Disrupt Presidential Primary
States take steps to protect their primaries from hackers
As the presidential primaries are quickly approaching, alleged threats have surfaced from the “hacktivist” group Anonymous that some worry could jeopardize the caucus results.
Anonymous is a group known for its cyber-attacks on companies and agencies which it deems corrupt. The alleged threat reported by the Associated Press surfaced in a YouTube video and targets the Iowa contest.
“We are calling on you to occupy the campaign offices of presidential headquarters … and peacefully shut down the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3,” the voice in the video says.
These threats which target Iowa are putting other states who are holding early primaries, such as South Carolina who is holding primaries on January 21st, on the alert.
“Everybody in the computer security world is aware of [Anonymous] and its capabilities. Their threats are not taken lightly,” said Chris Whitmire, a public information officer with the South Carolina Election Commission.
In a world that is becoming more and more reliant on web based programs and tools, security on the web seems to be getting worse instead of better, and every program seems to have a loophole that hackers can use to their advantage.
Read this article from The Hill to learn more about the steps South Carolina is taking to protect their primary from hackers.
December 21, 2011 •
A New Holiday Tradition for America Begins
The National Christmas Tree was lit for the 89th year
A tradition which began in 1923 under President Coolidge is still going strong in its 89th year. On December 1st, the National Christmas Tree was lit celebrating the beginning of the holiday season.
The Obama family began a new tradition this year as this year’s tree replaces one that was part of the national tradition for 30 years, until it was lost in a storm February of this year. The new tree measures 26 feet, 4 inches and is still growing.
After the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree, the Pathway of Peace begins. The Pathway, featuring trees representing the states and territories of the United States, also includes a number of musical performances and runs from December 6th to December 23rd.
Before the Obama family lit the tree, The First Lady joined by Kermit the Frog read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to the crowd and President Obama shared a few short remarks about what the holidays mean to him.
Even a family as busy as the Obama’s, as well as other D.C. notables, find time to maintain Chrismas traditions. Holiday traditions are what make this time of the year memorable and special, so try to make time for them no matter how busy you are.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
December 20, 2011 •
Contact Politicians Through Online News Articles
“Raise Your Voice” Can Instantly Link Readers to Politicians
Does reading about the issues make you want to voice your opinion and take action? Boston.com and some other news organizations are testing a new feature called “Raise Your Voice” on their website that will allow readers to contact their representatives directly from news articles on political subjects.
Congressional Management Foundation research noted that seeing “a compelling news feature” was one of the top motivators for Internet users to contact Congress.
With this new tool, readers only have to enter their home address, and the tool will provide a list of federal and state elected officials as well as presidential candidates whom readers can contact to express their opinion while it is still fresh on their minds.
This feature is just one of many that have recently emerged that help to connect a large number of citizens with their political representatives and increase the chance that their opinion will be heard.
This article by Miranda Neubauer on techPresident.com offers more information on this feature.
December 20, 2011 •
Promoted Tweets Being Used by Politicians
Promoted Tweets allow politicians to influence voters in real time
As more and more politicians are becoming Twitter savvy, new tools are being utilized to give individual politicians the edge in the “Twitterverse”. Now presidential candidates such as Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are using promoted tweets to influence voters in real time.
Defined by Twitter, Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets that are purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers. Besides being labeled as Promoted and appearing at the top of relevant search results pages on Twitter, they act like regular Tweets.
In addition to Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, Herman Cain’s team was also using them to respond to the sexual harassment charges before he removed himself from the race.
These Promoted Tweets help drive traffic to website’s that the promoter wants the public to see as well as bring their opinions and issues to the forefront of conversation on Twitter.
To learn more, read Presidential Candidates Use Promoted Tweets to Sway Voters in Real Time by Cotton Delo.
December 20, 2011 •
Inactive Dot-Gov Sites to be Eliminated
Only half of dot-gov sites appear to be active
A report compiled by the General Services Administration shows that nearly one-fifth of federal Web domains are inactive and one-fourth redirect to other dot-gov sites.
The report was released as a part of the GSA’s dot-gov reform initiative which is part of President Obama’s Campaign to Cut Waste, identifying unnecessary websites that can be consolidated into other websites to reduce costs and improve the quality of service to the American public. It is a goal of the GSA to significantly cut down the number of federal websites and create a more cohesive and standardized look to the remaining federal websites which will also help improve the government’s customer service.
Although agencies have failed to maintain many of their dot-gov domains, they have announced plans to shut down 26% of dot-gov domains, and merge 4% of domains into other domains.
To learn more, read Only half of dot-gov sites are active, GSA reports by Joseph Marks.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.