Social Media and the 2012 Campaigns - State and Federal Communications

March 16, 2011  •  

Social Media and the 2012 Campaigns

Joe Trippi

On March 14, Politico published an  interview of political consultant Joe Trippi.  He speaks about what should be clear to everyone after the 2008 presidential election – social media has changed the rules of engagement in political campaigning.

What will startle many people is his set of predictions: By 2012 or 2016, Trippi sees an end to the two-party domination of presidential elections (thanks to social media) and a level of fund raising that will eclipse what we saw with the Obama campaign. He also sees such funding going to a third-party candidate who is smart enough to use social media in an innovative way. The result could be a great political upset for Democrats and Republicans.

Whatever unfolds in the coming year, the missing piece from the discussion is consideration of the ramifications for campaign finance regulation. In the scenario  Trippi depicts, how will the new issues of advertising on social networks be handled? How will the source of funding be disclosed for a Facebook or Twitter message that is primarily a political advertisement and could social media efforts fall under the category of in-kind contributions?

The developments could complicate state elections, too. We have Maryland’s State Board of Elections and California’s Fair Political Practices Commission as examples of the first efforts at the regulation of political campaigning on the internet. I wonder how many oversight agencies will get out ahead of the issue by the next election?

For the Politico interview, read “Joe Trippi: Social media will kill two-party system” by Mike Zapler.

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