Can Team Romney catch up with Chicago “advantageous new media ability”?
The Obama campaigns “website posted a feature called ‘The Life of Julia,’ which was meant to show the important role of government programs in the life of the average American. Julia attends a head start school, a high school that participates in Obama’s Race to the Top program, gets a loan to start her own business from the Small Business Administration and so on. And with each step we are reminded that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to cut all of these programs. Conservative bloggers and columnists went ballistic with their derision and mockery, composing alternatives such as ‘Julia is enrolled in a Great Leap program where she will learn critical community organizing and obedience skills.”
Adler is correct in his assessment that the Obama campaign apparatus has been efficient in their management of the “advanced interactive tools” used to give [would be] supporters something tangible that also provides the campaign an outlet to advance its talking points.
Patrick Ruffini, a Republican strategist who specializes in new media, contends that “Digital is the biggest department at Obama’s headquarters,” and that the Democratic campaign retains a large lead-time over Romney when it comes to infrastructure rather than “messaging state-to-state.” He also claims that when “[he] worked for the Bush campaign [in 2004] [he] had all sorts of advantages over the Democrats in terms of data, field, and infrastructure operations because we were running uncontested.” It does not take much to imagine that Obama has a similar advantage this time around. Ruffini also points out that this part of the campaign [digital] is going to become increasingly important for Romney in the general election.
Where this is true, it is also valid what Zac Moffatt, digital director for the Romney campaign, said in the Adler’s piece. He points out that it is not the “interactive widgets” that are going to be important; they are not as useful as social media is going to be. However, this is also a tool that the president’s team is known to excel at. Indeed, most people probably do not come across campaign content at the actual site, rather they will see this stuff at sites that they already spend their time at – Face Book, Twitter, and various other social media – because people will be able to not only see the stuff, but also comment on it and give their own commentary. It is questionable whether Romney will ever catch up with Obama on his use of the social media to get the message out. The president has already had Face Book and Twitter town hall style events, and that was before the official start of his campaign.
Even though Moffatt claims that no one is going to see these widgets this far out, the fact that Obama is ahead is still something that Romney may want to treat as a priority.
Both of the campaigns’ websites are built similarly, with a section that has the bio in Obama’s case [titled about], it has one for him, Michelle, Joe Biden, and Jill Biden; when Romney’s bio has an over 600 word article filled with positive anecdotal information about the former Massachusetts life, business, and public record. Under the president’s bio, you will see a similar format, although the two stories could not be more different. The only similarities being that they both went to Harvard Law school, and they both leave out any deleterious influences they may have had. I always wondered if people who make these sites really expect voters to believe these bios.
It is clear from looking at the two that the president’s is more polished. One example would be the section on the president’s site titled “Romney Economic,” which leads to a page that is equipped with a timeline that resembles the ad Obama is running in various swing states. The ad – titled “Romney Economics: Bankruptcy and Bailouts at GST Steel” - and the site chronicle part of Romney’s time at Bain Capital and the purchase of Kansas City’s GST Steel.
“Kansas City’s GST Steel was a successful company that had been making steel rods for 105 years when Mitt Romney and his partners took control in 1993. They [Bain Capital] cut corners and extracted profit from the business at every turn, placing it deeply in debt. When the company eventually declared bankruptcy, workers were denied their full pensions and health insurance, and the federal government was forced to step in and bail out the pension fund.”
There is a powerful message here and one Romney better work hard to counter. It is a message that has worked against him in campaign after campaign since he first ran for office. Judging by the quality of the ad, and the web site, Romney is going to have to explain why he thinks his actions at Bain warrant him a shot at fixing the economy, eventually it will not be enough to change the subject every time this is brought up.