Twitter: A Modern Soapbox For Presidential Candidates

The race for the presidency of the United States is currently rounding third base and heading fast to home plate. Soon enough it will be time to place our ballots and decide for ourselves what we think the future of this country should look like. So in honor of local #ElectionDay lets take a look at our presidential candidates recent moves on Twitter.

During the presidential debates last month many audience members took action on Twitter to discuss their views, concerns, and comment on each candidate’s presentation. The candidates themselves also became very active during the opposing party’s debates. Donald Trump, for example, decided he would share his thoughts about the Democrats by underscoring the debate with quick remarks on Twitter. He was actually able to gain 60k followers to his account only halfway through the debate! Some of his comments ranged from opposition and agreement to even comedic gestures.

It’s admirable that Donald shows respect to other candidates when it’s due and simply isn’t a magnetic force of opposition. But then again he had his classic Donald moments where many other Twitter users strongly opposed his rhetoric.

Donald’s active Twitter presence is a strong method of reaching a broad audience especially the millennial generation that has seemingly claimed Bernie Sanders as their candidate of choice on social media. While social media may indicate that Bernie is the favorite, many other news outlets claim Donald is the one actually setting the political agenda for the race. His polarizing ideas may rub some Americans the wrong way, but others appreciate his strong opinions and straightforward communication with the public.

What about Hillary Clinton though? Is she able to set the political agenda for the Democrats, or is Bernie Sanders the one doing so? How is her social media strategy helping or hurting her in the race so far?

Recently Hillary tweeted this .gif of her confidently brushing her shoulders off (thanks again Jay Z) in response to the Republican candidates harsh commentary about her involvement in the Benghazi incident. The Republicans and many of the American public have accused Hillary of gatekeeping by hiding many of the incriminating details against her case, yet on social media Hillary has been solid about her views and actions. Likely the American people, especially those on social media sites like Twitter, want their candidates to have a firm stance on the important issues. Its admirable in their eyes to maintain a professional and consistent social media presence that emulates the voice of the candidate in real life. Hillary has done a fantastic job at this so far in the race, and the public can certainly expect nothing less for the next few months.

Bernie Sanders’ presence on Twitter during the Democratic Debate was nothing short of impressive, especially when looking at the numbers. He gained 35,163 followers during the two and a half hour event, compared to Hillary’s 13,252 new followers.

What’s interesting about this figure is that this doesn’t necessarily mean he answered the questions more thoroughly than other candidates, or proved himself to be the best man for the job. What it does mean is that Twitter is a powerful source for influence on the American public. In fact Bernie’s team knew this ahead of the debate and spent a large sum of money to become the highest trending topic before the debate, with the hashtag #DebateWithBernie. Paying for a trending topic clearly creates results but is it the best way to run a “grass roots”campaign? The voters will have to decide.

… Meanwhile during the same debate Donald Trump gained 76,500 followers on his own.

Overall the candidates use of Twitter is admirable thus far in the race. Some are using it to set the agenda for future discussion with fellow candidates while others use it to preach their ideals in 140 characters. The heavy use of social media in politics is a new trend, but one that won’t be leaving anytime soon.

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