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The Brief: Nov. 10, 2014

Examples are starting to pile up of the arrival of social media as a force with an effect on political campaigns as influential as traditional media coverage and advertising buys.

Picture of Mitt Romney's Facebook page

The Big Conversation

Is Facebook on the verge of supplanting traditional political advertising's primal role in campaigns? The media company BuzzFeed announced on Sunday a new partnership with Facebook to use "sentiment analysis" to provide an alternative method of finding out what voters think of individual politicians.

BuzzFeed's Ben Smith wrote that "Facebook is on the cusp — and I suspect 2016 will be the year this becomes clear — of replacing television advertising as the place where American elections are fought and won," envisioning that a politician's success could depend to a large degree on how well he or she adapts to the new landscape.

"Platforms have always shaped presidential politics — think of John F. Kennedy’s native grasp of television — and the 2016 election has the potential to be another turning point," Smith writes. "A few modern politicians appear to have a real feel for the raw emotion and, sometimes, (apparent) spontaneity that people will want to share. Elizabeth Warren’s blunt and casual economic 2011 tirade and Ted Cruz’s theatrical confrontations (and even his own low-production-value cell phone videos) are the beginnings of that viral populism for which the social web has opened a real space."

Observers of the Texas political scene shouldn't be surprised by this. Both the incoming governor, Greg Abbott, and the incoming lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, put an emphasis on using new technology to better target voters in the recently conducted midterm elections.

The Tribune's Jay Root, for example, mentioned the Abbott campaign's new approach to highly targeted television advertising.

"Using advertising methods that weren't widely available even during the 2012 elections, the campaign obtained detailed data from cable satellite TV systems to specifically target voters, campaign officials said," Root wrote. "So instead of relying on the traditional 'gross ratings point' system to hit a target audience based on Nielsen ratings of TV viewers, Abbott’s team actually knew what its voters were watching and more efficiently targeted its ads to them, campaign officials said."

And Patrick's campaign put an "unprecedented focus" on using web-based resources to communicate directly to supporters. "Patrick's campaign has spent about $830,000 on digital consulting and advertising, according to campaign filings," wrote the San Antonio Express-News' David Saleh Rauf. "That accounts for about 7.5 percent of the roughly $11 million the campaign has spent on advertising — much more than digital political advertising's national average of 3.5 percent, according to a recent report by Borrell Associates, a Virginia-based research firm."

The Day Ahead

•    Bill prefiling for the 84th Legislature begins.

•    The House Select Committee on Economic Development Incentives meets at 10 a.m. in the John Reagan Building to discuss findings and recommendations. (agenda)

Trib Must-Reads

White Democrats Continue to Fall in Texas Legislature, by Alexa Ura

Eagle Ford Traffic Clogs a Lifeline, by Jim Malewitz

Analysis: The Voters Who Disappeared, by Ross Ramsey

Villarreal Resigning to Run for San Antonio Mayor, by John Reynolds


Villarreal leaving the Legislature to focus on mayoral run, San Antonio Express-News

Rick Perry charges should be dismissed, legal scholars say, Austin American-Statesman

Straus, House leaders launch early PR offensive, San Antonio Express-News

Hegar's promotion opens race for Senate seat in special election, Houston Chronicle

How Battleground Texas hobbled the Wendy Davis campaign, Austin American-Statesman

Davis' future in question as election's dust settles, Houston Chronicle

Republicans Are Only Sometimes the Party of Uber, The New York Times

How the Chamber beat the tea party in 2014, Politico

Quote to Note


— Gov. Rick Perry, answering a question from Breitbart News on whether he thought the next president will be a senator. Ted Cruz is a senator. Perry? Not so much.

Today in TribTalk

Why I came back to UT, by Vince Young

News From Home

•    The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, digitally focused, nonpartisan news organization that informs and engages with Texans about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. Become a member today to support this critical mission.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Panel Discussion on Education 2.0, on Nov. 13 at the San Antonio Central Library

•    A Conversation With Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Dec. 4 at The Austin Club

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Explore related story topics

Politics Dan Patrick Greg Abbott Joe Straus Rick Perry Ted Cruz Wendy Davis