Cruz Was Able to Dominate Through Social Media

WASHINGTON – On a geopolitical level, Ted Cruz’s victory in the Texas Senate runoff Tuesday reflected the power of anti-government populism among hard-core Republicans. But the most important lesson of Cruz’s landslide win over former front-runner David Dewhurst has less to do with that political message than the rapidly evolving ways in which candidates communicate their message to voters.

The July 31 Republican runoff reflected a massive generation gap in the two candidates’ understanding of – and mastery of – social media and online networking.

Cruz was conscious of the rapidly evolving social media model from the beginning. He announced his candidacy during a call with conservative bloggers in January 2011, then tweeted the news before holding a news conference. Cruz hired a 24-year-old social media trailblazer, GOP consultant Vincent Harris of Austin, who had helped mobilize conservative bloggers for 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Harris created a “blogger action center” to work with conservative opinion leaders such as David Jennings of Big Jolly Politics in Houston, and encouraged like-minded bloggers to post for Cruz on their websites.

“Social media was critically important to Ted’s win,” Harris said. “There’s no doubt that the Cruz campaign ran the most integrated statewide digital strategy in the history of American politics.”

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