Republicans utilized social media not to fund-raise, but to coordinate secret polls. This helped focus on areas where they could make a difference with precious time and resources. This skirted the law, and went well above the murky world of campaign finance laws.
“The groups behind the operation had a sense of humor about what they were doing. One Twitter account was named after Bruno Gianelli, a fictional character in The West Wing who pressed his colleagues to use ethically questionable “soft money” to fund campaigns.”
A typical tweet read: “CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52–>49/476-10s.” The source said posts like that — which would look like gibberish to most people — represented polling data for various House races.
Why it’s Hot:
Social media can be a cost saving tool for political parties, as well as a way to cut down on overhead. By using anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data ahead of the midterm elections, political groups can avoid legal repercussions about campaign finance laws that prohibit coordination.
“It’s a line that has not been defined. This is really on the cutting edge,” said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization focused on campaign finance issues. “It might not be legal. It’s a cutting edge practice that, to my knowledge, the Federal Election Commission has never before addressed to explicitly determine its legality or permissibility.”
“At least two outside groups and a Republican campaign committee had access to the information posted to the accounts, according to the source. They include American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove; American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the campaign arm for the House GOP.”
Lastly, within minutes of the election ending they were deleted (Nov 3rd). This is a large contributing factor in how social media helped give the Republicans their largest majority in the House since World War II and control of the Senate.
Truly an interesting use of social media.