Midterm elections dominate social media

Commentary by
Kelsey Bonacker

While scrolling through all of my social media feeds, particularly in the last week or so, there appeared to be a lot of talk about the midterm elections, which took place Nov. 4. Midterm elections are the elections in which the voter is able to elect representatives in the middle of the term for upper houses of the legislature, such as both houses of Congress, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

The elections ended in what Reuter’s called a “political rebuke” of President Obama’s current policy when Republicans regained control of both the Senate and the House. However, it was the social media trend that caught my attention the most.

Approximately 6 percent of voters in 2010 said they followed politicians on social media. The number jumped to 16 percent, and the biggest age group to vote was voters between the ages of 30 and 49.

The number of people who used their phones to keep up with midterm election news more than doubled since the last midterm election four years ago. Many of the main social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, included various incentives to vote.

Facebook featured an online sticker, which itcalled a “megaphone” that allowed users to show all of their Facebook friends that they voted. Facebook also featured a banner on users’ feeds that contained a link to the locations of voting precincts.

Twitter featured the hashtag #GoVote2014 to make it easier for tweeters to find information quickly and find their favorite politicians to take a look at what they tweeted about. The ability to view state-specific tweets was also available, as was live coverage of voting-night news.

Snapchat featured a temporary filter which said “I Voted” to send to other Snapchat users to spread awareness of the elections. This was particularly popular among the younger and more liberal voters.

In the past, it has been the aforementioned young and liberal voters who have used social media as an outlet to spread awareness of their political beliefs. This year, studies found that both Republicans and Democrats were active on social media, with the Republican Party dominating Facebook and the Democratic Party being more active on Twitter.

Politicians are reportedly more interested now than ever in the use of online platforms to spread information, since such a large number of their voters made decisions based on information they acquired online. This trend has caused an increase in the number of politicians with an online social media presence, which has in turn affected their stance in the polls.

Nov. 13, 2014

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