Liberals Take Back Seat To Conservatives As Rulers Of Social Media

If elections were decided on Facebook, there'd be a lot more Republicans in office.

The common stereotype is one where Democrats are young tech-savvy idealists deftly surfing the webs on the information superhighway, whereas Republicans are stodgy, old reactionaries who think a cursor is a someone who tries to start their Rambler in January.

Matthew Lundh, a GOP consultant and former Director of New Media for the House Republican Conference begs to differ. He said the use of social media has been an effective tool that has been exploited by the party. After getting walloped in the last Presidential election, Republicans on Capitol Hill down to state and local races have been working to reverse the digital enthusiasm gap.

"President Obama proved it could work in '08. We've taken up the ball and run with it," Lundh explained. "It's just natural that candidates be savvy on this stuff.

It's a different world, Lundh said, where candidates are spending up to 10 percent of their campaign chests online.

Topping the list locally is Dino Rossi, who has one of the fastest growing Facebook pages in politics. He may have lost the '04 election by 133 votes. But online, he has more than double the number of virtual admirers as incumbent senator Patty Murray; 57,529 to 22,756. On Twitter, the numbers are closer; Rossi counts 2,564 followers compared to Murray's 1,937.

Being a former Microsoft CEO is no guarantee of Facebook success either. 8th District Democratic challenger Suzan DelBene is trailing incumbent Dave Reichert, 1,610 to 1,355. Rick Larsen, up in the 2nd, trails Republican John Koster 1,985 to 1,252. Even 6th District Congressman-for-life Norm Dicks is behind his GOP challenger Doug Cloud, 1,076 to 647.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is in the 9th District, encompassing parts of south King, Pierce and Thurston counties. You'd be hard-pressed to find many people that know that Republican Dick Muri is running against 14-year incumbent Adam Smith. The race has been negligently underreported by the local media. And although his campaign has been outspent, Muri has waged what has to be conceded a successful insurgent Internet campaign. What polling has been conducted shows the pair evenly matched. Perhaps Muri's 3,062 Facebook friends are that much more excited than Smith's 2,269.

About the only places where Democrats can draw some hope is in the 1st District, where future Democrat gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee is winning the Facebook battle over James Watkins 2,613 to 1,358.

And although he's behind in the polls, Democrat Denny "Give Em" Heck is leading Jaime Herrera 2,147 to 2,123 in the 3rd District.

Extra: Seattle's own Jim McDermott appears not to have a campaign Facebook page, so technically the 2,246 friends of Baghdad Jim's congressional page don't count. However, his opponent, Independent Bob Jeffers-Schroder's rudimentary Facebook page only lists five friends. Which will probably roughly equal his actual campaign total ...

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