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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

GOP drops "Twitter bomb" on Massachusetts

So much for the notion that Scott Brown's election was the result of a spontaneous grassroots movement in Massachusetts among voters upset over the Obama health care plan.

While Martha Coakley made her more than fair share of campaign gaffes, a pair of Wellesley College professors say there was another, out-of-state, factor that helped push Scott Brown over the top in the January election.

Twitter. In the hands of an Iowa-based conservative group with principals who cut their political teeth in the Willie Horton and Swift Boat attacks that helped two sink two other less-than-stellar Massachusetts campaigners.

Anyone paying attention to the race around December (which excludes the national press corps) knows that Brown's campaign was far more active in the Twitterverse. But even those pundits, such as yours truly, did not know that was the result of an astroturf effort to crank out 929 tweets over two hours attacking Coakley.

As co-authors Panagiotis Takis Metaxas and Eni Mustafaraj told the Globe, the tweets reached approximately 60,000 people before servers saw them for what they were: spam:
“It was a very cheap way of reaching about 60,000 people with limited resources and a limited amount of time,’’ Metaxas, associate professor of computer science at Wellesley College, said yesterday in an interview. “We’re going to see a lot more in the next election. I believe everybody will aggressively do everything they can with the social network.’’
So we see yet another in a long line of "innovative" Republican attack vehicles, this one showing the conservative movement has closed the "Internet gap" that progressives enjoyed for a few years.

It will be interesting to see if the message reaches the national political press corps that used the Brown election to paint what has become an increasingly inaccurate picture of the state and national mood. I'm not hopeful.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one voter but my wife and I went to our first political rally ever, it was for Scott Brown. I don't even always vote. I called our elderly neighbors 90+ and offered to drive them to the polls. For me it was about health care. 4 people in the car and we were all about that one thing.

May 04, 2010 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You one-issue voters still seem pretty proud of yourselves considering the healthcare reform bill passed anyways. And I'm sure your neighbors are so opposed to government-funded healthcare that they're refusing any medicare benefits, right?

Please take a better look at the candidates' entire platforms before the '12 election, or don't bother coming out to vote.

May 04, 2010 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Medicare is going broke. They get their health care in retirement from the same company I work for, and have what you would call a cadillac plan. I don't vote just on one issue, but this was what drove me to a rally and to provide a ride for my neighbors. I'm disappointed health care passed, and now when I retire my wife and I will be getting a divorce. Then she will be income eligible for free health care, and my company will be providing mine. We'll still live together.

May 04, 2010 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, in other words, you'll scam the government just to get entitlements?

May 05, 2010 1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the way we're being led, government knows best. So, I'll jump on the bandwagon. I'll register Democrat (now Libertarian) and ride things to the bottom. Until one of the states (my pick Texas or Hawaii) says enough and wants to re-assert their independent status.

May 05, 2010 5:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wouldn't be a scam, it's playing the game by the rules that are written. In society there are always the "haves" and the "have nots". I always worked very hard to be a "have", work overtime, save, invest. Society has deemed certain benefits should go to everyone, regardless of how hard they work or perhaps because of their bad luck in life. If society keeps raising the threshold of providing basic services to the poor (for example cell phones to welfare receipients) eventually it is not worth working hard to differentiate yourself. Welfare to illegal aliens, and I'm going to pay for it? Might as well join the "scammers" and relax.

May 05, 2010 11:03 AM  
Anonymous BorgiaPope said...

I am willing to bet that we'll see a lot more of these type of campaigns in the future, but then in a more sophisticated "under the radar" fashion. What if someone were to create the Twitter accounts months in advance instead of just days before the election?

March 01, 2013 11:15 PM  

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