Facebook and Twitter are a much bigger factor in this presidential campaign than in 2008. How do the candidates stack up against each other online?
In this razor-close battle for the presidency, the rival campaigns are fighting for every undecided voter, making record numbers of phone calls and door-to-door visits, but "a new front has opened in the 2012 election: the #hashtagwar," says Julianna Goldman at Bloomberg News. Last week during a Virginia campaign stop, for example, President Obama said that Mitt Romney was conveniently forgetting conservative policies and adopting moderate ones because he was suffering from "Romnesia." Within 24 hours, #Romnesia was trending worldwide on Twitter, and Obama's stump speech was suddenly big news. So new is the phenomenon that nobody knows how much such viral successes will matter on election day, Harvard professor Nicco Mele, who studies social media in politics, tells Bloomberg News, but so far "Obama is operating at a different order of magnitude than Romney just in terms of raw numbers." How does Obama's social-media impact differ from Romney's? Here's a breakdown, by the numbers:
Growth of Facebook since the 2008 campaign
Obama's Facebook page "likes"
Romney's Facebook page "likes"
Times that two "Romnesia" posts on Obama's Facebook page were "liked" within 48 hours
Percentage daily growth in Romney's Facebook fans before the first debate on Oct. 3
Percentage daily growth in Romney's Facebook fans immediately after the first debate
New Facebook followers Obama gained in a burst last week following the second presidential debate
Number of Twitter followers Obama has
Number of Twitter followers Romney has
Tweets Obama's campaign sent out during the second debate
Times they were retweeted
Tweets Romney's campaign sent out during the second debate
Times they were retweeted
Tweets posted during the second debate that referenced the candidates and their televised clash
Facebook users in the U.S.
U.S. Facebook users who are old enough to vote
YouTube users following Obama
YouTube users following Romney
Obama followers on Instagram
Romney followers on Instagram
Percentage of social-networking-site users who say online communications are "very important" or "somewhat" important in keeping them informed on politics
Percentage who have "liked" material on politics or social issues posted by others
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