by Brandy D. Anderson
It’s that time of year again, the United States Presidential race is in full swing. With the election less than nine months away, the country has begun the march of caucuses and primaries which will ultimately determine which Republican and Democratic candidate will appear on the ballot. The four top contenders have all embraced social media, and Facebook is the best way for them to get in touch with the largest voting pools. Here are the four leading candidates at the time of writing (in no particular order):
About: “Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the longest serving independent in U.S. congressional history. Bernie Sanders was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. United States Senator, Vermont, Independent.”
Bernie Sanders is an underdog who suddenly sprinted out of the background to become front and center. His Facebook page already has more “likes” than both Cruz and Clinton. The ‘about’ section on his page has a mini-bio of Sanders, and it talks about his childhood “in a modest-income family” and his early political career. One thing that sets Sanders’ page from the other three big contenders is his abundant use of quotation memes. “’What I mean by democratic socialism is that this nation can afford, and must afford, to provide the basic necessities of life for all of our people – that’s health care, that’s education, that’s housing’ – Sen. Bernie Sanders, December 5, 1990, two months after being elected to Congress”.
The memes are a great way to get quick ‘sound bytes’ of Sanders’ views. Another recent meme: “’We must move towards a democracy where one can run for office without begging for contributions from the wealthy and the powerful’ – Sen. Bernie Sanders”. Of course, not all of his posts are memes. Sanders also posts about various issues like prescription drugs: “How do big money interests try to control our government? Just look at what the drug industry is doing to stop Congress from lowering skyrocketing drug prices”. In addition, Sanders often posts comments like this: “We have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country in the world. 95 percent of all new income created in this country since the Great Recession went to the top one percent. We have a moral responsibility to reduce the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else.” This page is currently being updated about four times daily.
About: “US Senator from Texas and candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Throughout his entire life, Ted Cruz has proven to be a passionate and effective fighter for limited government, economic growth, and the Constitution. Ted’s calling to public service has been inspired by his first-hand observation of the pursuit of freedom and opportunity in America…”
Ted Cruz’s ‘about’ page includes a rather extensive family biography but there’s not much else on his ‘about’ section other than his designation as being Christian and Conservative. His page is currently filled with caucus talk, like this recent post which reads “We’re bringing the message of liberty to the Live Free or Die State! If you value liberty, #ChooseCruz”. He posts selected videos of other people discussing his campaign (like the recent coverage from Steve Lonegan on MSNBC).
Cruz also uses his page to announce some of his political views such as his response to the recent topic of whether or not women should be required to register with Selective Service when they turn eighteen. Some of his Republican competitors said yes, women should have the same requirements of men now that they’re allowed to fight in close combat. However, Cruz posted: “We have had enough with political correctness, especially in the military. Political correctness is dangerous. And the idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think, is wrong. It is immoral”. Cruz also runs promos to encourage campaign donations like the recent advertisement where you would receive a football signed by Ted Cruz if you contributed $10 or more. Cruz’s page is updated frequently, averaging at about six new posts daily right now.
About: “Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, presidential candidate. Posts from Hillary signed –H. Wife, mom, grandma, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, 2016 presidential candidate.”
Hillary Clinton’s page is written in a conversational, friendly tone, much more akin to a personal Facebook page rather than a political one. She openly discusses her religious views: “I am a life long member of the Methodist Church, raised on the credo of John Wesley: ‘Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.’ ” She also says she enjoys yoga, swimming, reading, taking long walks, playing with her dogs, watching movies, and playing with her young granddaughter.
Clinton lists some of her favourite movies (Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, and A League of Their Own are a few) and some of her favourite tv shows (such as Downton Abbey, The Three Stooges, and HGTV shows). She says she carries “hundreds of quotes” around with her. Her posts are similarly personal like the recent photo of Hillary eating at a diner with a couple, the caption reads: “Pancakes, coffee, and laughs in Manchester, New Hampshire”. Of course there are also rallying posts, particularly rousing this time of year with the caucuses running strong. “Listen up” begins one recent post, “The NH primary is tomorrow, and it’s CLOSE. We need every single member of Hillary’s team to step up, reach out to their friends […] and let them know why #ImWithHer”. Clinton’s page is currently being updated frequently, anywhere from six to ten times a day on average.
About: “Affiliation: The Trump Organization. his is the official Facebook page for Donald J. Trump”
Well, Donald Trump’s laconic ‘about’ page is a stark contrast from H. Clinton’s prolific one. In fact, Trump’s posts aren’t very wordy either, with most of them bearing a photo of Trump (often striking a ‘thumbs up’ pose) and a quick comment: “Want exclusive updates from the campaign trail? Text Trump to 88022 to be part of the movement to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain”. There are videos of Trump addressing his supporters, “America needs strong leadership. Politicians can talk but they don’t get things done. I have a strong track record of success and if elected I will do what I have promised to do”.
Trump does insert some personal preferences, for sure, like his Super Bowl Sunday post: “So far the Super Bowl is very boring – not nearly as exciting as politics – Make America Great Again”. There are also thank you posts: “THANK YOU – Plymouth, New Hampshire! I had a fabulous afternoon with all of you. I appreciate all of the support. It is so important for you all to get out and vote Trump on Tuesday! Together – we will make America safe & great again! #FITN”. Trump also will occasionally post about his politics: “There is a tremendous amount of waste and abuse- in the VA! Nobody gets along with Veterans groups, more than I do. If elected, I will clean up the entire system- and see to it that our Veterans are taken care of, the way they should be! #GOPDebate”. Trump’s page is updated often and looks as if he either writes, or at least dictates, most of his own posts.
Note: I recorded the most recent number of ‘likes’ for each candidate at the time of this writing, but these numbers are rapidly growing (particularly in the case of Bernie Sanders).