For some, Wednesday's big political news was that Buddy Roemer was dropping out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination. But Zach Green, who is both a Twitter manager for the Roemer campaign and the mastermind behind election tweet-tracking site 2012twit.com, told the Daily Dot there’s more to this story.
“Tomorrow I will formally end my bid for the GOP nomination and begin my run as an Independent candidate for President,” Roemer tweeted on Wednesday, making the news official on Twitter. He’s relaunching his campaign as a third-party candidate today.
That, Green argued in an interview Wednesday night, was the news: Roemer’s push to secure the nomination by way of AmericansElect.org and the Reform Party. And now, more than ever, social media will be the key to that victory.
Green, as a paid consultant to Roemer and a booster of Twitter in politics, is hardly a disinterested observer. But there’s something to his argument.
Roemer, a former Louisiana governor and congressman, famously switched parties once before, from the Democrats to the Republicans in 1991. He’s been running since last summer for the Republican nomination. But he's gained little attention, even with his impressive resume.
Because of his inability to catch on with Republican voters, Roemer was completely shut out of the debates, essentially destroying any chance of winning in the primaries. Yet he charmed voters with his homespun tweets.
Just as he bypassed the debate-organizing gatekeepers and gained access to voters through Twitter, he’s routing around the system by running as an independent.
He’s hoping to gain ballot access in November by way of AmericansElect.org, an organization that is using an online primary to select a third-party candidate. Currently, the nonpartisan group is raising funds to secure ballot access in all 50 states for whomever wins the online primary.
Names like Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, and Ron Paul have secured top spots in the online race thus far, but Green thinks Roemer will have a chance because he's actively campaigning for the spot. That campaign includes a heavy focus on social media.
“We're going for a 50-state strategy to secure the Americans Elect nomination,” Green said on Wednesday.
In this case, that means creating Twitter accounts supporting Roemer in all 50 states. Those new accounts only had a handful of followers as of Thursday morning. Green said the campaign was working to change that. Green said most of the accounts were backed by a local volunteer who could interact with people in that area and gather support behind Roemer.
The eventual goal behind the new accounts is to get enough signatures and votes in each state to push Roemer over the top in the Americans Elect primary. Green said the campaign's early goal was 10,000 signatures in 10 states.
The effort reminds one of Barack Obama’s embrace of Twitter in the 2008 campaign—but of course, that was more for show than for votes, given Twitter’s smaller reach four years ago.
One thing Green wasn't concerned about was the notion that more campaign Twitter accounts would mean fewer followers for the candidate himself. Since supporters can follow both the candidate and a local campaign account, multiple accounts tend to support each other with retweets and mentions and drive more followers, rather than competing for attention.
“Having more voices in the conversation will only help boost the discussion,” Green said.
A discussion Green hopes will bring his candidate a win—and not just on Twitter.
Photo by Gage Skidmore