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Facebook: The Real Presidential Swing State

•, David Talbot

Facebook and Internet campaign strategies grew up at the same time. In 2003 and early 2004, when Facebook was a new dorm-room plaything, Howard Dean's presidential campaign pioneered Internet fund-­raising. By 2008, Facebook had crossed the 100-million-user mark and was coming to dominate online social networking; that year, Barack Obama's campaign wielded a custom social-networking site that helped win the White House (see "How Obama Really Did It"). A Facebook cofounder, Chris Hughes, helped build that site.

Now, in 2012, Facebook is central to the upcoming presidential election. Both Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, are well aware that half or more of the electorate is on Facebook. Both campaigns' websites are entwined with Facebook pages; visitors are encouraged to log in with their Facebook accounts and then post messages supporting the candidates for their friends to see.

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