Republicans are poised to pick up several seats in the Senate this November — and if polls aren’t evidence enough of this, just look to social media. According to a new report from voter registration nonprofit (and nonpartisan) organization HeadCount, the GOP is crushing democratic candidates in online popularity as the mid-term elections draw nearer.
As of this week, Republican candidates for Senate had more than four times as many fans on Facebook: over 1.4 million compared with 300,000 for Democratic candidates. Those Dems average just 8,260 Facebook fans. Republicans? More than 38,000.
On Twitter, the disparity is even more stark. GOP candidates have close to 520,000 followers in total, compared with the Dem’s 90,000–and this even without the support of conservative figurehead John McCain. Oddly, HeadCount decided to use the Arizona senator’s official (far less popular) campaign Twitter account, rather than @SenJohnMcCain, which has over 1.7 million followers. Had those figures been included, this would be more of a social media landslide.
What’s most remarkable about this data is how much Republicans have changed since the 2008 election. After President Obama’s success in fostering grassroots support on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, it appears conservatives made a point of improving their tech- and social media-savvy.
But as we come closer to November, social media faces a test in politics: will it be able to help campaigns on a state level or was it simply a one-hit wonder for Obama, unlikely to be repeated? We’ll find out soon enough. Social media might never replace stump speeches, town halls, and door-to-door handshakes. But the Republicans certainly have a leg-up in the mid-terms, leaving the Dems with some some catching up to do before 2012.