Presidential Candidates All In For Social Media

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San Francisco, CA. (CNN) - It's no longer enough to campaign in the real world.  Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are also inundating cyberspace in their bid for the white house.

Dan Simon has details on all the platforms available to politicians taking advantage of tools in the digital age.

Technology has taken center stage in this run for the White House.

Obama and Romney are using every digital tool available to reach voters.

For the president, it even included a virtual town hall forum on Reddit.

The social news website with just 20 employees but millions of users.

With zero notice, President Obama logged on last Wednesday for an ask me anything or "AMA."

The president answered 10 of the most popular questions... Ranging from his thoughts about the space program to who's his favorite basketball player.

A lot of users also asked wanted to know about his thoughts on the drug war, but he ignored the issue.

Political observers say his responses probably were not as significant as the mere idea itself of the president engaging in a digital town hall forum.

"TV appearances, debates and conventions were sort of the only way to speak to a mass audience. Now there are starting to be other channels, other ways to talk directly or talk in some sort of forum. And I think that can only improve the access and improve the engagement people feel."

"No word yet if Romney will follow suit on Reddit. His team tried to generate buzz with a smart phone app announcing his VP selection, the media though announced it was Paul Ryan before the app did."

But it was indicative of the times.

And analysts say it helped Romney to connect with a slice of younger voters-and it generated media attention.

"Campaigning is about communication. It's about reaching people, it's about mobilizing people."

So, in that sense, says Berkeley political science professor Jack Citrin, technology has made politics easier.

Messages can be targeted across many different sites and devices.

Campaign rhetoric can be disseminated much more quickly today with social media.
With the benefit of incumbency, Obama has a significant head start.

For instance, the president has 19-million followers on Twitter to Romney’s one million.
The president is also seen as a pioneer in using tech...

For example, when he took office, he started using YouTube to record his weekly Saturday addresses, in addition to the radio.

And his 2008 campaign was seen as a trailblazer to harnessing the internet to organize and communicate with supporters.

There's also been numerous trips to Silicon Valley.... Facebook and LinkedIn townhalls.... And a high profile dinner involving CEO’s including Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs.

Aside from the Facebook, YouTube and Twitter profiles, the candidates and conventions are also using Google +, Instagram, Pinterest and Foursquare-- services that weren't around the last election cycle.

But Citrin says it's unclear whether technology truly has an impact on voter behavior.

"What we don't really know, okay, is how effective any of this is in a direct way on public opinion."

But 2012 may be seen as a pivotal year in how elections are fought.

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