Tweets don’t equal votes
by Hugh Akston
Now that the high of the election has somewhat faded, I thought it would be as good a time as any to review why some were shocked, SHOCKED by the results of the Mayor’s race.
While voters and the general public see the speeches, debates, TV interviews and the commercials; and some in the “bubble” tweet and “poke” at each other in the twittersphere; it is the workings of a campaign behind the curtain that is charged with actually WINNING … or so you’d hope.
Based on the sheer number of tweets and Facebook posts over the last three or so months from Nathan Fletcher supporters following his “move to the middle,” you’d think the “momentum” had picked up and he was within striking distance of moving above Bob Filner into second place. If you’re like me, you follow those same folks and see that Fletcher became the social media darling of San Diego.
But my question to these Fletcher supporters was and continues to be….to whom do you think you were reaching out with your tweets and Facebook posts?
Despite the Twitter bubble being so small, you can easily get lost in it and think that it’s representative of the voting electorate. You see the same people (mostly journalists and PR folks) bantering back and forth about either A) how they know more about campaigns than anybody else (but most likely have never worked on a campaign in their life), B) how much they hate Carl DeMaio, while anybody that votes for him is doing a disservice to humanity, or C) how great Fletcher is and if you DON’T vote for him it will be a disservice to humanity, resulting in San Diego as we know it being left in ruins.
More than three months of seeing this on Twitter can have a major impact on your psyche and start altering sound logic. You start believing the constant chattering of B and C above coming from folks whose reality is A. You’re actually going to win! You start equating all of this to believe voters are feeling the same way, so you get to spend the Sunday before the election running a half-maration or at the Padres game, or the night before at home watching movies … instead of actually working to contact voters.
I’m sorry, but the last thing I’d want to see my mayoral candidate in the eighth largest city in the country doing on the morning of the election is surfing.
Contacting voters…that’s probably how you should go about winning an election. That is something Carl DeMaio took to heart in actually placing first. There is no doubt his campaign team was the best at walking precincts, making phone calls, and doing everything possible to ensure every VOTER knew him. That also goes for every city council candidate using the Revolvis team. We saw outright victories for two of these candidates (maybe?) and one that had more votes than the incumbent, virtually unheard of.
Once DeMaio got the ball rolling and eventually landed the GOP endorsement, Krvaric and crew implemented their voter outreach machine and GOTV efforts, by far the best in California.
I wish I had the exact numbers, but I’d bet that each registered Republican in each district was contacted AT LEAST six to eight times, whether that be through phone calls or walking.
Now, to say that Fletcher believes he ran the best campaign, in my opinion, is stretching it. Did the switch to independent boost his numbers? Absolutely. But what did he do with it? Based on what I saw, not much to motivate his base. With turnout hovering at less than 30 percent, what did he do to directly contact voters and get them to the polls? Who did he contact? Did he go after high propensity decline-to-state voters? These are all questions I was asking myself immediately following the Decision, simply because those things needed to be acted upon to actually win.
Some were so surprised and upset about the outcome on Tuesday because most of what they’ve been seeing was tweeted or posted on Nathan’s Facebook page by the same people that are already supporting him. To steal a recent line from Barry Jantz, “Social media is the new campaign button — it makes candidates and their supporters feel good.”
Now I don’t mean for this post to be a knock on Fletcher. I personally believe he is a great individual and has been and would continue to be a fantastic elected official. I just truly question the tactics of his campaign team and whether they actually wanted it. The one thing I’ve learned through campaigns, by the time Election Day rolls around, the candidate should be absolutely miserable.