It’s no surprise that last Thursday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the individual mandate was an immediate game-changer in the 2012 race for the White House. The campaigns of both President Obama and Mitt Romney can report successes in terms of support and fundraising.
The instantaneous online response that came from both sides of the political spectrum in the aftermath of the decision wasn't a surprise either. As soon as the decision was public, the campaigns got to work revising messaging on their websites and social media pages, implementing fundraising online, and using established email and cell phone databases to quickly contact their supporters with relevant messages about the decision.
Because of the enormous impact (positive or negative depending on which side of the aisle you sit) the health care law is set to have, it’s become one of the most important points of contention in this already heated contest. Both campaigns leveraged this fact to bring in fundraising dollars in the aftermath. CNN reported that Romney’s camp raised $4.6 million online alone by the Friday morning following the decision. Likewise, Obama’s operation, while not revealing specific numbers, said they had surpassed Team Romney’s announced total.
Using traditional methods of fundraising, neither side could have raised that much money in such a short period of time. While most online donations are smaller on average than direct ones, the scale of online’s reach lets campaigns connect with more supporters, more rapidly.
Beyond scale of reach, the Internet allows for fast messaging adjustments—keeping things timely and relevant. Both campaigns promptly changed messaging on their websites and social media pages so that the minute a supporter heard of the decision they could unite with their party in rallying around their candidate.
Romney’s campaign changed their website’s homepage to reflect the court’s decision, writing “Obamacare Upheld: Elections have consequences.” Underneath was a big, red “Donate” button. More than a week later, Romney is still riding the Obamacare wave on his website. Additionally, both campaigns utilized Facebook to garner support following the decision—Romney again pushing the need for reform.
Obama and Romney’s campaigns exploited healthcare via email and text message—now a part of everyday American life. Romney’s campaign messaged supporters on both mediums, asking for campaign contributions using language addressing the decision. Messages read, “The stakes couldn’t be higher. Donate $10 or more to put a stop to the policies of Barack Obama and the liberal Democrats.” Obama’s campaign manager fought back online, sending an email to supporters with the subject line “Let’s win the damn election.” Its text drove home their point of why it’s necessary to keep Obama in office.
Because both campaigns swiftly adjusted their messages—reaching millions of voters within minutes of the Supreme Court’s decision—they saw increases in support and money raised. With the Internet at their fingertips, campaigns are energizing their bases like never before.
Alena Baisden serves as digital media director at Smart Media Group. Prior to joining SMG, she executed online and traditional media campaigns for consumer brands, top universities and travel & tourism accounts. A version of this post was also published on Smart Media Group’s blog, Smart Blog.