Two-thirds of adults and 90 per cent of young adults use social networking sites, predominantly Facebook. A third of young adults will post views on political issues on social media, and the Pew Research Centre has found that about a third of 18- to 29-year-olds name a social networking site as their most helpful source for learning about the election.
Borrell Associates estimates politicians will allocate more than 9 per cent of their media budgets to digital and social media in this election cycle, a staggering $1 billion (€880 million).
Crucially, it changes the nature of the dialogue between politicians and many voters by making redundant the mediation role of the press and TV. Communication is two-way, allowing for a sounding board effect and a sense of ownership of the campaign, while the message is also uncontaminated by translation or explanation by intermediaries. It is largely unquestioned or subject to fact-checking and does not have to sit beside rival narratives to face easy direct comparison. The control of the message by political campaigns is a joy.