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Analysis examines the huge role of Twitter in ‘warped politics’

December 11, 2021

While social media has become a driving force for political elections, a new analysis raises questions about its impact on politics, as a whole.

Politico Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels and deputy editor Zack Stanton recently participated in a discussion with Republican strategist Eric Wilson, Zach Graumann, Andrew Yang’s former campaign manager, and Pew Research Center’s Datalab director, Aaron Smith where they discussed the position of social media and how it has contributed to the evolution of politics.

“We know that most voters are more active on Facebook, said Wilson. “So what’s happening on Twitter is primarily performative for journalists, influencers, opinion makers, and other elected officials that you may need to win over — or politicians — in order to break through on Twitter.

Wilson added, “You have to sort of try and become the main character for the day. So if you’re playing that sort of status game, then that’s the objective, particularly in light of restrictions from Twitter on political advertising.”

Graumann also detailed the hurdles he faced in determining Yang’s audience in the social network space. Despite the hurdles that come with social media campaigning, Graumann did note how it is beneficial.“We had to find the crowd that found Andrew Yang appealing, so social media for us became a tool to build our army. What social media does is let folks feel like part of a movement that is completely different from the canned talking point that’s clearly been written by 20 people that the candidate has tweeted out.”

Wilson also echoed that sentiment as he noted how social media can work in candidates’ favor.

“Suppose there’s a negative story about a candidate coming from a mainstream publication. There are sort of two routes you can go — well, I suppose there are three. You could ignore it, which is the wrong thing to do. The second is you could provide your narrative of the facts and correct the record where you think it needs to be adjusted. Or third, ridicule it. We’ve seen this done pretty effectively to sort of blunt the impact of a story. If the headline is so egregious or the take is so bad that no one else will touch it for follow-ups, then you’ve succeeded with Twitter.”

However, Graumann shared why he also believes political candidates still stick to the “traditional playbook.”

“I think that’s really, really hard. It’s one of the reasons a lot of politicians are still playing a traditional playbook that I think is slowly dying,” Graumann said. “But there’s a number of core voters in both parties that are not as active on social media or online or even consuming media the way we all do when we’re following politics.”

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