In a fiercely contested election where online and social media is playing a much more important role than they did in previous races, President Barack Obama's campaign has been much more active in using digital media to directly communicate with voters, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
The report, which covers the content and volume of communications on their websites and on social media from June 4-17, found that the Obama campaign "is posting all most four times as much content and is active on nearly twice as many platforms."
The authors of the study stressed, however, that these trends could change as the campaign progressed. "As the conventions drew closer, Romney's campaign took steps to close the technology gap and may well take more with the addition of Paul Ryan to the ticket," noted PEJ deputy director Amy Mitchell in a statement. "But there is a long way to go before the Romney team matches the level of activity of the Obama campaign."
Obama had the greatest lead on Twitter, where the Romney campaign averaged 1 tweet per day while the Obama campaign produced 29.
The report also highlighted notable differences between the two candidates in their content. About one third of Romney's campaign posts were about Obama, "largely attacking him for a policy stance or action," the study found. "That was twice that of the Obama campaign" where 14%, focused on his challenger during the period studied.
Obama was, however, more active in targeting specific voting groups with a web site that allowed users to join 18 different possible constituencies.
The report also found that both candidates were heavily focused on economic issues, which accounted for 24% of Romney's posts and 19% of Obama's. But the study found that users were more likely to share content on other topics, notably immigration and health care.
Another notable finding is that the two candidates were not doing much sharing or re-tweeting of their follower's content, which indicated they could do a better job of building up a two way conversation with voters.
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