Photo Credit: Carsten Koall, Getty Images
If there’s one thing Mitt Romney has proven so far in the campaign, it’s that he’s effortlessly hip and organically connected to youth culture. No wait, it’s the opposite.
Nevertheless, the Romney campaign announced a new digital and social media push as a means of announcing his vice presidential pick. The team has launched an iPhone and Android app called “Mitt's VP,” billed as the first source of information about the announcement. Of course, the app will also allow the campaign to collect donations, as well as more info for its databases. And, if all goes well, it should help the campaign control the story itself -- something any campaign (not least Romney’s, with its off-the-rails messaging in the last week or so) wishes it could do more often.
It’s not the first time the campaign has dipped its toe into the app world. The team also offered a Romney-theme Instagram app, which misspelled the word "America" and got the candidate trending on Twitter for the wrong reasons. (D’oh! )
President Obama announced his VP pick via text message back in 2008. But by then, the news had already been scooped by the traditional media.
The text message idea seems almost quaint now, in light of the explosion of social media platforms and the omnipresence of custom apps for everything since even the last election cycle. It's almost impossible to fathom now that a campaign ever existed without the full range of digital media tools.
(And it’s not just the campaigns that stand to benefit; it’s the voters, too. Those who are still undecided might even find their very answer at ISideWith.com, which matches up a user’s responses to questions with the right choice for them in November based on the candidates’ positions. Et voila!)
Not to be outdone by the Romney campaign, the Obama camp also released a new app. Although it has some similar features to Romney’s, it also serves primarily as a source of facts about the president’s policies. (Facts! Can you imagine? In a presidential election?)
Obama, the first candidate and later president to fully embrace social media, seems a more natural fit for the app game than Romney. But at this stage in the election, neither can afford to avoid full immersion in the digital space.
Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and iVillage's chief election news blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.