#USelections2012: Convention season

This Week: A hurricane delays Mitt’s nomination convention; the elections invade your video games.

August 28, 2012 14:23
4 minute read.
Republican presdiential ticket Romney and Ryan

Romney and Ryan 370. (photo credit: reuters)


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It may seem odd to voters - given the 24-hour news cycle and the four-year campaigning cycle that has come to dominate US politics - but the race for the US presidency will only launch into full swing over the course of the next two weeks, as the two major parties hold their nominating conventions.

This is good news for Republican Mitt Romney in particular, who will finally have access to a war chest of general campaign funds when he becomes the official GOP nominee at the party’s convention in Tampa. But, as they say, man makes plans and God laughs. Tropical Storm Isaac, gearing up to become a hurricane, had Florida in its sites, causing the party to cancel the first day of its convention on Monday, and leading to various apocalyptic reactions on social media in the process (#Isaac was mentioned nearly 100,000 on Twitter in one day).

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Tweets of the Week:

However as the storm veered toward New Orleans seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina decimated the city, striking the correct political tone gave Republicans a new challenge.

In politics, the show must go on. With a multi-day opportunity to craft a narrative for their candidate and party at their disposal, the GOP remained primed to take advantage of the most plugged-in political party convention to date. A digital map of the stage put together by the Tampa Bay Times shows the convention’s layout on the ground, which includes a giant Debt Clock. To drive the point home, a second Debt Clock will be launched starting at 0, to show how much the national debt increased during the course of the convention alone.

In addition to the usual television and print coverage, blogs and social media, some interesting new modes of access will accompany the 2012 conventions. CNN and Time launched a “Convention Floor Pass” app to cover the conventions, which will feature video, polls, photos and commentary. YouTube launched special convention coverage on its politics channel, featuring coverage from a wide spectrum of news sources, from ABC to Buzzfeed to Al Jazeera to Unvision.

If those are still too conventional for your taste, however, Microsoft has an idea for you: Watch the convention through your X-Box. That’s right, for the first time ever, the video-gaming platform’s LIVE feature (in association with NBC News) will allow gamers to chat, interact, respond to polls and even get voter registration information as they stream the conventions in real time.

Democrats are hoping to still stay a step ahead in innovating new ways to connect with their supporters. This past week, the Obama campaign said it was wrapping up agreements with several wireless carriers to allow donors to contribute via text message (the Romney campaign is working to follow suit).

Playing up Romney’s lack of personal likability, Democrats launched a pre-convention, Hollywood-style video ad decrying the candidate’s “Convention Reinvention.” Over 350,000 people clicked in on YouTube:

Viral Video of the Week:

One Republican mused to Politico’s Mike Allen that in 2000, his party derided Democrat Al Gore’s nominating parly a “Reinvention Convention.”

The lesson, he said, is that “there are only so many words that rhyme with 'convention.’”

Yet, with so many new ways to plug in, it begs a mention without apprehension that the intention of each convention invention is still just to get the voter’s attention.

#USelections2012 offers weekly insight into the US presidential election through a social media lens, tracking candidates as they try to reach 270 electoral votes in 140 characters or less.

The writer is a Breaking News editor and blogger at The Jerusalem Post. Read his blog ‘The Bottom Line’ here.

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