Advocates of social media have claimed that an effective social media campaign has become essential for candidates in recent election cycles. While the impact of social media may be increasing, particularly when used for organizing volunteers and raising campaign funds, findings from this analysis indicate traditional media still plays an essential role and is more likely to drive social media coverage of the candidates than the other way around.
Each election cycle is argued to be “the year” when a social media campaign will trump traditional methods of campaign success, like personal wealth, strong financial backing and support from party officials. In 2004, Howard Dean was considered the candidate most likely to break through due to his support among young voters and their reliance on social media, and Ron Paul has been viewed as the candidate who picked up that mantle in both 2008 and 2012.
While Paul received a higher percentage of social media results than the other candidates, Mitt Romney, the candidate with the fundraising advantage and stronger backing within the Republican establishment, has a 25-point advantage over Paul (according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal polls). It appears that a reliance on social media has not yet proven to be the decisive factor in presidential elections.