Impact of social media on politics, presidential race

- Social media has transformed the political landscape. Candidates can tweet instantly with voters, hashtags trends can either support or oppose a candidate while videos of mistakes and mishaps can go viral almost instantaneously.

So how would elections of the past look if social media was around?

Social media can make these races much more fun to watch because you are not only watching, but you feel like you are participating. Live tweeting debates, hearing immediately from viewers and also watching the trends, hashtags and sometimes brutal responses unfold in real-time make politics today so different from races pre-social media.

We spoke with historian and author Joseph Cummins about some of the dirtiest campaigns of the past and how social media might have changed the races.

“The current campaign already reminds me of the campaigns of the 19th century because of the level of vitriol and insult that people are hurling at each other, which was a staple of 19th century campaigns,” said Cummins. “So I believe if they had Twitter, if they had social media, things would have gotten even worse.”

The cover of Cummins’ book, Anything for a Vote, are a collection of what are basically memes. They are pictures with funny text – sometimes made up and sometimes what was actually said. At first, I thought these were campaign posters, but they are actually photos of the candidates with the text of attacks these candidates endured.

So when we look at these modern examples, you can see that meme-style attacks have been taking place long before social media. So as feisty as this presidential race seems to be, maybe it is all just politics as usual.

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