News & Views
A Battle of Two Blogs: Obama v. Romney

Now that both U.S. political parties have concluded the respective coronations of their chosen candidates, it’s time for them to head into real battle in the weeks leading up to the November 6 election.

What tools are both candidates arming themselves with to sway voters in the upcoming weeks? Both the Romney and Obama campaigns have gotten noticed for their TV and web advertising response speeds, their social media capabilities, and even a new iPhone app that can track a voter’s preferences in the weeks leading up to election day.

But today, we will look into the blogs of both candidates, to expose weaknesses, applaud strengths, and see what we can learn and apply on our own blogs.

The power of the blog

Indeed, both candidates are using social media to campaign like no politicians before, with some calling this “The social media election.”

But how are the blog posts being used to feed into the social media information pool? Are the teams behind the blogs using the blogging forum effectively to help change voters’ minds?

The campaign blogs for both candidates may turn out to be a critical factor in the election. Blogging is where both candidates can create campaign excitement, promote voter encouragement, and occasionally even lay out specific steps they believe will help the U.S. in the coming years.

With a variety of bloggers for both campaigns working presumably on-the-fly using mobile devices, which are hosted through VPS hosting sites, each candidate’s blog is filling daily with a mix of editorial and promotional content.

Obama’s blog

On the Obama 2012 blog, content seems to fall into several categories:

  • requests to readers to join the campaign as donors
  • stories of hardship and hope from supporters (likely edited down by campaign bloggers)
  • promotion for the President’s and Vice President’s campaign schedules
  • and more.

Scrolling through Obama’s blog, one feels more that the bloggers are focused more on filling the pipeline with fresh content, and less on attempting to educate voters on the differences in strategies that make the incumbent a better choice for a second term.

To be fair, there is an extensive section called “Get the Facts” used for heavier analysis on topics of jobs, economy, national security, health care, and so on.

But what the blog doesn’t seem to do is link to these positioning statements to points made on the blog in daily posts, which could be a good way to drive readers to understand the issues more fully.

Romney’s blog

On the Mitt Romney blog, the Republican candidate’s team uses a banner across the top asking readers to see the candidate’s five-point plan to help the middle class, while linking to a daily blog post and archived items below.

Some of the posts concern how volunteers from across the country are working with local citizens’ groups to get the word out, and how teams are canvassing voter opportunities.

But the Romney team continues to post about the inarticulate goals of the Obama presidency, and uses the blog to get across fighting points about the current administration’s efforts to manage the nation and the economy.

In this sense, the Romney campaign is doing the right thing at its blog, pushing its core campaign points across the digital platform to a point where the social-media team can work those messages across various social networks.

Your own “party” platform

As readers know, using the power of words and images to create stirring blog posts that spark passion and action among readers remains our central focus.
How can you use some of the political candidates’ blogging tactics to bring about a change in your own blogging?

  • Reiterate your own party platform: What are the main goals of your blog? Maybe it’s time to reach back to your own constituency and tell them what you are doing with the blog, what you plan to do in the future, and what benefits it will bring to the readers.
  • Set up your own town hall meeting: Do you live in a city where you know consistent readers of your blog also live? Set up a meet-up—pick a location, meet your readers, talk about why they read your blog, and find out what can make it better. You can be the best candidate to your readers in this way.
  • Do the unexpected: Maybe your blog has become too predictable, too boring, too safe. Have you tried something unexpected to shake your readers out of the malaise? What about a firm (or controversial?) stance on an industry issue? What about using video to (re) introduce yourself in human form to your readers? There are many ways to shake up your routine. Find one that works for you and work it.

The ideal for both U.S. presidential candidates’ campaigns should be to use their respective blogs as provocateurs of political action, insights, and platform consistencies—not partisan bickering. The candidates’ blogs should outline detailed platform strategies backed up by evidence and data.
The blogs should not fill voters’ minds with venomous rhetoric aimed at the opposition, but should rather provide a source for valuable information leading Americans to make an informed decision in November.

The same should apply to not only apply to pundits, but to anyone with a politically charged blog. There is a time and place to editorialize, and blogs are the perfect outlet for opinion-based writing. But good editorial journalism is backed with stats, facts and well-thought-out theories.

Bloggers should heed this advice and not skew opinions based on unwarranted rhetoric. A well-informed public is the strongest part of a democratic society.

First appeared on ProBlogger.

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