Graduation Year

Fall 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Andrew Busch

Rights Information

© 2013 Alexandra P. Toohey


Throughout the course of history, presidential campaigning has evolved commensurate with the advancements in technology. FDR mastered the radio, JFK the television and President Barack Obama, the Internet. In both the 2008 and 2012 Presidential campaigns, President Barack Obama used social media via the Internet to understand the voter better than any candidate before his time. Through revolutionary data collection techniques, both offline and online, the Obama campaign obtained vital electorate information. This data was used by the campaign to: target online social media users who were most likely to become politically engaged; and attempt to influence their voting habits, two of the most crucial measures of a successful presidential campaign. This paper analyzes whether the social media campaign strategy deployed by President Barack Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 elections was successful in its attempt to influence the electorate. This is accomplished by evaluating voter turnout and engagement based on targeted demographic groups. Next, I assess how social media has impacted fundraising in the 2st1 century, particularly following the aftermath of the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA) in 1974. Finally, I analyze how social media effectively assisted President Obama’s campaign in mobilizing the electorate both online and offline to his benefit.