The Social Web Scoops News Networks During Election Season

  • Special Guest post by Christina Gagnier

    As voters across Iowa cast their votes in the Iowa caucus, the first primary in the 2012 election cycle, members of the political Twitterati across the country shared their opinions, thoughts and analysis on Twitter into the late hours of the evening.

    Something interesting happened though that proved the importance of the social web for breaking news and disrupting the traditional election coverage cycle. @Buzzfeed, led by former Politico reporter Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen), was the first with the scoop from a former John McCain aide that McCain would endorse GOP candidate Mitt Romney the following day, after the 8-vote difference between candidates Romney and former Senator Rick Santorum from the Iowa Caucus.

  • — Slate (@Slate) January 4, 2012
    The community couldn’t believe it. How could CNN be reporting on this without giving credit to the outlet who had the “exclusive” and broken the news?

  • — Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) January 4, 2012





    Other fast-paced, to-the-point analysis came from the industry’s best. Obama campaign guru David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) was one of the first to tweet regarding the surprising Santorum showing in Iowa, commenting:

    The sound Santorum is hearing right now is not the buzz of victory. It’s the whirring of Romney Super PAC, preparing to carpet bomb him.

    Late into the evening, when the final reports were coming in from the counties, people were using Google’s election results over the major media sources like The New York Times to determine which candidate, Santorum or Romney, would be declared the evening’s victor, even if by a slim margin. The margin of votes between the candidates fluctuated from the widely tweeted five-vote margin (courtesy of @rickklein) to the eventual 8-vote margin that the IOWA GOP confirmed by the end of the evening.

    As the decision for the GOP frontrunner heads next to New Hampshire and South Carolina, it will be interesting to see if the momentum is kept up on Twitter and how social media generally will play a role in this election. While it is evident that those on Twitter “outscooped” the major media sources with the night’s news, we have yet to know how the use of social media will affect election outcomes.