Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Potential of a Good Network in Politics

2012. Four years have passed and that can only mean one thing. No, it’s not about the summer Olympics; another presidential race is upon us. Candidates hit the trails and reach out to people through television ads and debates. But in the growing world of social media, these tactics are becoming much less effective. The new arena for votes is shifting toward the Internet, toward your social network.

As David Binetti mentions in his article, the “new political battleground” lies in the connections people have to one another. Many voters, especially the younger ones, no longer receive their news and information from watching TV, which greatly lessens the impact of campaign ads. Today, many voters seek opinions online from numerous news conglomerates, popular blogs, and their own friends. The thoughts and views of certain individuals can reach a much wider audience than any single campaign ad can due to the high connectivity and small diameter of the social network.

The realization Binetti brings forth in his article is that in many areas, the individual’s vote is meaningless. You might live in a state where the opposing party heavily outnumbers your side and that party has always maintained dominance. But just because your vote might not make a difference in your area, your opinions can still have an impact. A single blogger’s post about a candidate or an issue can propagate through the network and reach hundreds of followers. Some of these followers may live in “swing states”, which historically could go to either side. One of your posts on Facebook or links to articles could easily reach a friend in one of these areas and help sway their vote. The vastness of the social network allows voters to connect and get information like never before.

For a fair number of people in this class, this will be the first presidential election you’ve voted in having just missed the cutoff in 2008. Your opinions and views can make a difference in the coming election. If you see an interesting article or have thoughts about the election, feel free to share them on Facebook or Twitter. Because of the connected network structure, these views can reach many people over a wide geographical area. Your connections and the social network you form could provide an invaluable tool that could change the course of this and future elections.


  1. Nice post, I think this is going to be the first election where there is really targeted campaigning going on based on social network structure. It seems that the Obama campaign is trying to harvest FB information about their strong supporters so that they can use it to say "XX is a friend of a friend of yours, why don't you call them and try to convince them about issue YY".

  2. From a theoretical perspective, voting in large elections is always a worthless experience because the chance that your vote will matter is nil. But from a social perspective, people derive benefit from expressing their opinion, so if they can successfully make voting a social experience, it becomes more likely that people 18-25 will actually vote.