Finally Catching Up
The consensus over the last two election cycles in the media has been that the Democrats "get" social media and Republicans "just don't." During McCain's 2008 campaign that was true. Obama became the most followed person on Twitter while McCain failed to utilize the new tool hardly at all. This also helped fuel Pres. Obama's re-election build by keeping him in almost instant contact with more supporters than any President has been able to before. As an article in the New York Times from 2008 reads, "... when he arrives at 1600 Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama will have not just a political base, but a database, millions of names of supporters who can be engaged almost instantly." The President's campaign and White House Staff have utilized these new tools very effectively but Republicans are catching up. One of the most notable examples is Marco Rubio's 2010 senatorial campaign where he gathered a larger following than any Senate candidate had previously, as described in this video from Targeted Victory.
In addition to his senatorial campaign's success, Rubio has utilized social media to raise over $100,000 selling water bottles following his response to the president's State of the Union this year. In fact, according to CBS News, Rubio's PAC banked over $119,000 from water bottle sales. (cite) Rubio tweeted a picture of the water bottle after he spoke, and began advertising the water bottles on his website by posting, "Send the liberal detractors a message that not only does Marco Rubio inspire you... he hydrates you too."
The most recent example of Conservatives utilizing twitter was Sen. Rand Paul's #StandWithRand. Now, Paul comes from the libertarian wing of the party, which has had more luck resonating on the web than average Republicans, but Paul's ability to trend to the top topic in the world during his 13-hour filibuster is notable.
President Obama now ranks #5 in twitter followers only behind Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Rihanna, but Republican's aren't standing on the sideline anymore. The social media war will continue, and 2014 will show how far each side has progressed in their understanding of new media.