Liz Mair, a free-speaking, fast-tweeting and sometimes profane political consultant, was observing the Republican presidential candidates in January when she offered a thought on Twitter. The sooner that Iowa forfeits its leading role in the nominating process, she wrote, “the better off American politics and policy will be.’’
Then, she took a job with a candidate who has high hopes of carrying Iowa.
A day after her new job with GOP Gov. Scott Walker was announced, she was off the payroll, thanks to her knock on a politically potent state. It was the latest example of the clash between the world of politics, where a top imperative is to stay on-message, and the more free-wheeling ethic of social media.
In recent weeks, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, both likely candidates for the GOP nomination, have also cut ties with staffers and volunteers over their social media posts.
Ms. Mair declined to comment. Mr. Walker, of Wisconsin, on Thursday referred to the matter, saying that “you need to respect the voters.’’
Politicians try to control every facet of their political profile, giving consideration to their speeches, their travel schedules, whether to wear a red tie or open collar. As they try to take advantage of the reach and immediacy of social media, they are hiring staff members who already have “personal brands’’ of their own—years of social media posts to thousands of followers, and a sometimes provocative online voice that can cause the candidate problems.Rich Galen writes at Mullings:
A press release from Shield Political Research:
- How does this stuff come out? The professional opposition research firms that have sprung up over the past few years put the NSA to shame when it comes to following digital breadcrumbs.
- And, while a candidate's allies will go to great lengths to protect the principal (see, also Sec. Clinton's emails), no donor or major player will lift a finger to help a staffer caught with their fingers on the SEND key.
- One of the issues with Twitter, etc. is to write something that will get other people to make it a "Favorite" and/or to "ReTweet" it to their followers. The game is to get as many "Followers" of your own as you can.
- There's an old saying at the Galen School of Political Press: "Anyone can make news if they say something stupid enough."
- Here are some guiding principals for young people who want to be professional political operatives:
- Don't Tweet stupid stuff.
- If you've been drinking, don't Tweet at all. It will be stupid stuff
- If you pause for even a nano-second before hitting the "Tweet" key, erase it. Your internal governor is trying to tell you something.
- You can't generate context in 140 characters
Shield Political Research, a Democratic opposition research firm with experience researching opponents as well as offering self-research to clients, is pleased to announce the launch of a new service to campaigns and political organizations: self-research on the social media history of potential staffers and other new hires.
The early stages of the 2016 cycle have been filled with stories of what turned out to be short-term campaign hires generating distractions — and embarrassing headlines —with regretful social media posts that were discovered too late, including misogynistic Twitter posts, tweets taking a swipe at early-state voters, and tweets calling officials on both sides of the aisle “idiots,” and worse. […]
Many of the men and women who will staff and lead campaigns this cycle are from a generation in which virtually their entire adult lives —for better or worse —are reflected on social media accounts.
Shield will examine these social media accounts — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, among other sites —and flag any potential sources of trouble, including questionable photos, comments, tweets, “likes” or followed feeds.
Our methods go beyond simple searching, using triangulation, archived pages and social-web analysis to guarantee we capture a full picture of the staffer’s social media footprint.
The service will employ the same touchstones that mark Shield’s other research products: speed, accuracy and a price that makes it a shrewd investment for national and local campaigns alike.
Shield’s social media reports for staffers will be completed in three days or less, and be protected by a confidentiality clause.