Wisconsin Recall Election Plays Out On Facebook

Politicians and organizers involved in the Wisconsin recall election relied on Facebook to get out the vote and target specific audiences, foreshadowing how the site may be used in 2012.

Facebook played a key roll in organizing activists on both sides of the Wisconsin recall election yesterday, which could foreshadow what’s to come in the 2012 presidential race.

The team at Facebook in Washington, D.C. reviewed the activities of political action groups, party committees, non profits and politicians in the Badger state, and shared their observations with us: Activists leveraged the targeting features of Facebook to reach specific groups of voters who are on the site.

Specifically, organizers involved in both sides of the Wisconsin recall election used Facebook heavily in their GOTV, or Get Out The Vote efforts. Campaigns typically expend many resources on GOTV toward the end of a campaign. As background, the recall elections were held following efforts by Republicans to strip the collective bargaining rights of government union workers.

Here are some of the best examples of GOTV in yesterday’s race for control of the state Senate, as pointed out by Andrew Noyes, manager of public policy communications for Facebook:

  • Former Wisconsin U.S. Senator Russ Feingold wrote this message to his nearly 50,000 Facebook fans, “Today we will cross the finish line in Wisconsin, and every vote will count. I can tell you that from experience as someone who won his first race for the State Senate by only 31 votes.” He also posted a link to the Wisconsin Polling Place Finder.
  • We Are Wisconsin, a labor organization, launched the most widely used Facebook campaign called “Friend Out the Vote.” The initiative asks Facebook users in Wisconsin to share a link containing polling place with five of their friends. Public transportation schedules were also provided to audiences who may not have had access to this vital information. This Facebook-only effort complemented the over 200,000 doors We Are Wisconsin has knocked on since August 6th.
  • Election Protection, a watchdog group, posted their full contact information and web site information for their Wisconsin Facebook fans. The group has been using Facebook to reach out to voters who may have questions or concerns about how to cast their ballot.
  • Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republican Party used dual Facebook posts to tout the budget balancing records of Wisconsin Republicans while posting links to articles criticizing President Obama’s handling of the economy and jobs.

Noyes said that the way the social network was used in the Wisconsin recall election shows how the site will be leveraged in the Republican presidential primaries and also the 2012 general election.

Readers, what do you think of politicians and organizers’ use of Facebook to campaign?