Today marks a new U.S. Congress, but that doesn’t mean we’re done looking back at 2012. We’ve got a list of the top political moments in a year when Facebook, Twitter, Google + and many other social channels played a major role in shaping the images of elected officials and candidates.
Politico has its own list of the top political memes, some of which are highlighted below, and we’ve culled a few of our own favorites, most of which were generated by the presidential campaigns for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in what’s been hailed as the first “social election.”
1. “Four More Years”
Who can forget the photo of President Obama hugging his wife Michelle, which was shared by the campaign on Twitter and retweeted more than 800,000 times to date since election night, making it the most retweeted post ever on Twitter, according to the site.
Who can forget Clint Eastwood’s address to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on the night Romney accepted his party’s nomination. Did the stunt—and ensuing social media uproar—help spell the beginning of the end for the Massachusetts governor?
3. “Binders Full of Women”
Weren’t the presidential debates a delicious source of social media memes? Does anyone remember “Big Bird” and “horses and bayonets?” Neither of those phrases took off across Facebook and Twitter quite like Romney’s “binders full of women” comment.
4. “Texts from Hillary”
Some creative types took to Tumblr to post about texts that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might send under a photo of the former first lady in shades and holding her smartphone. Like that, the possible presidential contender in 2016 became cool with the young, hip crowd.
5. “47 Percent”
Was a more devastating phrase ever uttered by a presidential candidate than this remark made by Mitt Romney at a fundraiser in Florida? While Politico says that the YouTube video lingered online for months, it wasn’t until President Jimmy Carter’s grandson contacted Mother Jones’ David Corn about the incriminating video that it came to light.
6. “Hey everybody – this is Barack”
We remember the reddit AMA that President Barack Obama hosted as one of the watermarks of the election, making it a likely platform for future candidates.
7. Promoted Trends, Promoted Tweets, and Hashtags
And, how about the use of Twitter to do battle with an opposing campaign? Promoted Trends and Promoted Tweets were often used in conjunction by the campaign to ensure their message—captured in hashtags—appeared at the top of the trending topics lists and tweets. In fact, hashtag battles were a new form of political warfare.
Take #Forward2012, which Obama for America promoted on Twitter in the fall.
According to National Journal, the Romney campaign was the first to embrace the Twitter ad units during their convention in Tampa, when they purchased the #RomneyRyan2012 hashtag for the nominee’s Aug. 30 acceptance speech.
The Republican National Committee promoted the hashtag #AreYouBetterOff during the Democratic convention to deflect attention away from the speeches in Charlotte, N.C.
Readers, what were your favorite viral moments in politics from 2012?