Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Money can't buy you class...or Facebook friends

Florida's 2010 election season is already shaping up as one of the most drama-filled in recent history.

Whether it's Charlie Crist managing to shift the state's political gossip-mongers from speculating whether his marriage was a sham (not that there's anything wrong with that) to speculating whether his Republican party registration was a sham, or Alan Grayson trying to have Angie Langley thrown in jail for daring to exercise her First Amendment rights just a few months after mailing all of us in District 8 a copy of the constitution, it's been one heckuva roller coaster ride, and there's still almost three months left before the primaries, and five months before the general elections.

Recently, we've seen two new candidates toss their hats - along with several million dollars of their personal wealth - into the ring: Rick Scott aka Voldemort aka Skeletor, and, most recently, Jeff Greene.

Apparently, money can't buy you Facebook friends either, at least in Jeff Greene's case anyway.  Despite having announced his candidacy over a month ago, a television ad campaign with estimated costs of $1.3 million per week, and repeated proclamations to the press that he's willing to spend "whatever it takes to compete" from his personal billions, Greene seems to be encountering serious difficulties making headway with actual voters.

Greene has a nice shiny website, Twitter account, Facebook fan page, and YouTube channel, but [sob!] the internets aren't showing him much love.  Rick Scott doesn't measure up very well either.  Here's the breakdown comparing Greene's online footprint to other candidates for statewide office (all numbers as of 6/1/2010):


@greene4florida's first tweet was on April 30th, and he's collected only 151 followers in that time.
@charliecristfl: 5,728 followers
@BillMcCollum: 3,427 followers
@KendrickMeek: 3,473 followers
@marcorubio: 12,322 followers
@ScottForFlorida: 698 followers

Even @CCristFan, a parody twitter account making fun of the "TanMan's" habit of bring fans along to all public appearances, has 304 followers.  And Gary Bruhn, mayor of the  quaint little western Orange County town of Windermere (best known lately as Tiger Woods' home zip code), has 138 people following him @windermeremayor, almost as many as Greene.  (Random fun fact about Mayor Bruhn: he likes licorice jelly beans.)

Shameless plug: you can follow *me* on twitter @rumpfshaker. 


For this section, I looked at the candidate's official politician pages or groups, not their personal or individual Facebook pages.

Jeff Greene's page is "liked" by only 223 people.   Perhaps more telling, scanning down his Wall posts shows multiple questions and links posted by others without answer or response from Greene.  The most recent posts show growing frustration from FB users that their questions are not being answered, re-posting the same question over and over.  There's also a not-insignificant number of posters who say they are not in Florida.

Out-of-state support was helpful to Marco Rubio's campaign, as he caught the interest of the tea party movement and other conservatives around the country, bringing two crucially needed benefits: (1) additional campaign contributions that in the aggregate allowed him to compete with Charlie's bundled bucks from the lobbyists, and (2) assistance in spreading his message  to other voters and activists at little to no cost.

Greene is not likely to derive a similar benefit from out-of-state support, as so many recent articles  have mentioned that he's a billionaire who plans on self-financing the campaign, and he's unlikely to get the same level of media interest (aka, free nationwide publicity) as Marco's wild ride to the top of the polls did.

Charlie Crist page: 20,362 people
Bill McCollum page: 6,829 people
Kendrick Meek: 16,234 people
Marco Rubio page: 74,863 people
Rick Scott Page: 206 people

Humorously enough, "People Opposed to Rick Scott for Florida Governor" shows 604 members, and an event called "Vote for Anyone Except Rick Scott" dated for the August 24th primary has 178 confirmed guests.  Ummm, Ricky, darling, it's no bueno when Facebook shows way more people against you than supporting you...especially when the even the authenticity of  some of your supporters seems suspicious.

I also found a user-created group called "Floridians Who Support Bill McCollum's Lawsuit Against Health Care Reform" that is liked by 1,227 people, and a page called "Florida Keys Friends of Marco Rubio" is liked by 141 people. 

Seriously, folks, there are almost as many Marco fans in the just the Keys as there are Rick Scott or Jeff Greene fans in the entire Facebook universe.  Think for a second about the Keys...geographically small area, a long drive separating the Lower Keys from mainland Florida (i.e., I bet Team Marco doesn't have him scheduled for very many appearances in Key West), and its reputation as a laid-back, liberal area (or at the very least not a Republican stronghold).  If Marco can scrape up 141 people in just the Keys, it just makes Greene and Scott's Facebook presence look that much more pathetic.


greene4florida joined on April 28th, 2010, has 10 subscribers, 17,892 total upload views, and has uploaded 19 videos, the most-viewed of which has been seen 13,172 times.

charliecristfl joined May 11, 2009, has 81 subscribers, 37,814 total upload views, and has uploaded 48 videos, the most-viewed of which has been seen 12,355 times.  Charlie is  well-covered all over YouTube, but unfortunately for him, most of the videos seem to be criticisms from Rubio supporters, speculation about, well, you know, general Florida news generated from his role as current Governor...not his campaign.  Searching charlie crist on YouTube failed to bring up one single official video from his campaign, on the first search page, something that didn't happen with any other candidate I've covered here.

billmccollumfl joined May 18, 2009, has 24 subscribers, 6,491 total upload views, and has uploaded 7 videos, the most-viewed of which (the recent Jeb endorsement) has been seen 3,978 times.

kendrickmeekdotcom joined March 18, 2009, has 88 subscribers, 20,722 total upload views, and has uploaded 30 videos, the most-viewed of which has been seen 5,531 times.

marcorubio joined May 6, 2006, has 780 subscribers, 632,322 total upload views, and has uploaded 151 videos, the most-viewed of which has been seen 59,864 times.

scottforflorida joined April 11, 2010, has 15 subscribers, 6,576 total upload views, and has uploaded 10 videos, the most-viewed of which has been seen 1,997 times.

Greene doesn't look quite as bad under these statistics (nor does Scott, for that matter), but I would love to see some analytics on from where exactly Greene's YouTube views are coming.  Before announcing his run, most Floridians didn't know who he was (partly due to the fact that he just moved here two years ago).  Many of the statewide news agencies that covered the race and Greene's entry into it embedded the YouTube clip of his announcement or at least linked to it.  

Watching a YouTube clip of a candidate with whom you're totally unfamiliar is a significantly lower level of commitment than joining a Facebook page or following on Twitter, where you're agreeing to continue to get promotional messages from the campaign. 

Well, what does all this mean? 

Reality television has taught us that money can't buy you class (my friends!), and the Beatles and Patrick Dempsey showed us that it can't buy love.

But can money buy an election? 

I don't think it can...at least, not by itself.  I cite back to Jordan Raynor's great articles on campaign building in the internet age (here and here).  The biggest pile of cash in the world, without a meaningful message behind it, will be nothing more than useless paper.

Side note: doesn't the dollar already seem like useless paper?  If you want to be completely freaked out, read The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve (don't read right before going to bed or you'll have creepy dreams about the end of civilization)

OK, back on topic...

Now, I have a feeling that merely writing this article is going to get Jeff Greene and Rick Scott a few more clicks and followers.  Let's see, Greene goes from 151 followers to 200, that would be a 33% increase...if he's willing to spend $1.3 million dollars a week for TV ads that we're all just fast-forwarding on our DVRs anyway, he oughta kick me a little cash for bringing him extra online friends.  I think $100,000 would be fair.  Wonder what would happen if my consulting company sent him an invoice?

[I'm going to monitor Greene's online accounts over the next few weeks and see if he makes any headway.  I'll post updates on this blog, and if he does actually get any sort of online bump, I'm totally gonna take credit for it]

It's too bad Bette Davis isn't around anymore, because we really could use her famous line from All About Eve as a warning label on this year's elections (or, more accurately, most Florida elections).

Fasten your seat belts,
it's going to be a bumpy night five months!

1 comment:

  1. Someone just emailed me and pointed out that I left Alex Sink off the list.
    That was originally an accident because she's been darn near invisible in the press lately, her messaging didn't pop in my mind.

    I was halfway through running the numbers on everyone else when I remembered I'd left her off the list, then decided that was fine because she doesn't have a primary opponent in the Governor's race.

    Now, after the post is done (after having to re-edit the HTML codes because Blogger was doing something wonky with my fonts, Grrrr) I'm tired, but I'm still curious about how her numbers stack up against everyone else. If I have time tomorrow, I'll run the data on her and add it to the article.

    I also did not do an analysis of the candidates' main websites, for three main reasons: (1) I am by no means a pro at web design, so I would feel a little presumptuous at judging someone else's work, (2) I'm not really sure of an accurate way for an outsider to judge the SEO efforts of other's websites (if anyone knows how and wants to do this analysis, email me and I would like to link it here), (3) I did notice a couple missteps by opponents of my endorsed candidates, and I don't feel like helping them out. I've made no secret of who I am endorsing in several races (http://www.sunshinestatesarah.com/p/endorsed-candidates.html) and as this my personal blog, I don't have to be fair.

    Thanks everyone. Let me know your thoughts.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
Permissions beyond the scope of this license are available here.