For my fourth blog post on contemporary digital culture, I will focus on the online presence of senatorial candidates in my home state of Pennsylvania. To give a basic summary of the 2018 midterm race, incumbent democratic senator Bob Casey ran against republican Lou Barletta. Senator Casey was running to be the first democratic senator elected three times in Pennsylvania history. In the primaries, Casey faced no opposition while Barletta ran against a former state congress representative. To give a background on the candidates, both were born in Pennsylvania and come from political families.
Looking into Barletta’s social media presence, he currently has no website but I’m sure he did during the time of the race. The best look I got to looking to how Barletta’s social media impacted his senatorial race is through his Twitter. The most intriguing thing about his twitter is how often he mentions President Trump, who he strongly supports. I think this may have had a major effect on how voters viewed him during the time of the race. Supporting Trump can be controversial within the Republican party. Barletta’s support of Trump could have convinced some republican voters to not give Barletta their vote. Besides his support of Trump, Barletta’s social media is very bland. Sometimes other twitter users will bring up his past accusations of racism when retweeting his holiday tweets.
In terms of the victor Bob Casey’s online presence, googling his name shows his official government website along with his Twitter and campaign website. Clearly there is more content online surrounding Casey considering that he is an active senate member and has run a senate campaign three times. Starting with his offical government website, Casey lays out his offical statements, values, and ways to contact his office. His campaign website is rudimental, just giving background on his life and political career. The main function of his former campaign site now is the donation function for those who wish to donate to his future political endeavors. Finally, his twitter is much more active than his former opponent. He gives daily updates on his efforts in the senate as well as retweeting messages from senators he supports. Looking back to his tweets when he was running for office again shows more direct contentions to the opinions of the republicans he was running against. He didn’t have anyone running against him in the democratic primary, so he could focus he efforts on bolstering himself against his opponents’ policies.
Looking into the online presence of these candidates reminds me of our recent class discussions on the role of technology and data in modern politics. One recent assigned video went over how the Trump campaign hired a firm that claimed to have gathered enough data to make phycological profiles on over 200 million American voters. While I do not think big data played a major role in the 2018 midterm in Pennsylvania, I recognize that big data will have a major role in future politics.