Report Finds Republicans Lead in New-Media Outreach

Posted August 28, 2010 at 5:38pm

Last January, the Massachusetts election to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) rattled local Democrats: Republican candidate Scott Brown stole the predominately blue state’s Senate seat from the Democratic Party’s grasp.

Was Facebook behind Brown’s victory? According to a newly released study by L2, a self-described digital innovation think tank, it absolutely was.

The report, which focused on Senatorial use of social media, said Brown had 10 times the Facebook interaction and YouTube video views of his Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley, and “overcame huge fundraising and awareness deficits” by using Google ads, iPhone applications and other social media.

Titled “L2 Digital IQ Index: U.S. Senate,” the study said, “Digital competence provides an opportunity for senators to authentically engage and mobilize voters and constituents.” L2 researchers think the ability of lawmakers to harness the social media whirlwind can affect election outcomes.

Analyzing the traffic of Senators’ and candidates’ accounts on social media networks including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the report released the “digital IQ scores” of lawmakers and found Republicans were more social media-savvy than Democrats.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ranked highest with a digital IQ of 156. Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) followed, and were also were classified as digital geniuses.

Republicans also outnumbered Democrats in the digitally “gifted” category, 8-to-7.

Social media platforms for Republican Senators increased by an average of 103 fans each month and by 98 for Democratic Senators. Excluding McCain’s social media, the total number of “likes” on Republican Senators’ Facebook pages grew 6.7 percent each month, compared with 3.6 percent growth for Democrats. Similarly, on Twitter, Republicans have a 4.5 percent growth rate for followers while Democrats have only 2.8 percent growth.

“President Obama pioneered the social media trail,” the report reads. “However, Republicans are blazing it.”

According to the study, 91 of the 100 Senators have YouTube channels and 87 have Facebook pages. Only 56 have Twitter accounts.