Politics 2012

Obama’s Campaign Tactics

Obama Actively Pursues College Votes

With the election right around the corner, Barack Obama is taking serious steps to appeal to college students.

By Sam Isaacs

With every presidential election, a candidate must choose how to present themselves, and their ideas. In the eyes of several VCU students, faculty and local residents, Barack Obama’s campaign is making an impact in the area.

Social media has become an important platform, one that Obama seems to be more effective at managing than Romney, noted Jeff South of VCU’s School of Mass Communications.

“Obama has more Facebook followers, and Twitter likes, but do they translate to votes?” asks
South. South said that whether people actually show up to vote remains to be seen, but the numbers can’t be ignored with social media playing such a big role in how the youth get their news.

South also notes that social media involvement can lead to campaign donations, a benefit the Obama campaign is reaping.

Students have taken a notice to Obama’s media tactics as well. “I really felt that Obama started really building his hype during the Olympics, it is one of the most watch things on t.v., and I saw very few Romney ads while watching,” said VCU student Katey Damian.

One VCU faculty member believes more and more college students are getting their news from social media, and Obama is applying old strategies new outlets. “Candidates are still mudslinging, something that has been done since the signing of the Constitution. Now, this technique is being used all over social networking and the internet,” said VCU Political Science Coordinator John AughenBaugh, PhD.

A Richmond native, Ed Lajoie, said that not only are Obama’s ads reaching college students, but his message is as well. “He has done a great job of making Romney into a symbol of something many college students dislike, a rich white guy in a suit,” said Lajoie. “Taxes, student loans and making it in the working world are important factors for students, and Obama is doing a good job on playing them up to kids.

New tactics and new strategies in this year’s campaign vs. 2008 were also noticed. “In ’08 Obama focused on hope and change, I feel like this year’s campaign is less slogan oriented, and more fact and issued based,” said Damian.

AughenBaugh believes that Obama has focused less this election on promises, and found a new strategy, “Since he is the incumbnet, the ideas of hope and change aren’t relevant like they were in ’08. He is not defending himself, he is attacking Romney.”

Obama has also stepped into new territory by engaging in activities like the live chat on Reddit.com in August, a session in which he took question from internet forum members, something Jeff South notes has never been done before.

Students and Faculty alike have taken notice of Obama’s effort to highlight social networking, new platforms and new messages across to college students. “His strategy is essentially throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks,” said South.

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