Messaging is critical to the game of politics. Handlers do everything possible to make hopeful candidates look great in the public eye. By now it's a pretty cliché formula: get them in a picture holding a newborn baby. Make an impromptu stop at a local business on the campaign trail. Shake every hand in sight. That sort of thing. But Twitter can quickly blow up all the goodwill a politician has earned. A few ill-conceived words can undo months of careful coordination and sink someone's reputation instantly. So it would make sense that when you're running for the US presidency; a few people would want to go over what's being tweeted to millions of voters. But as Mitt Romney can attest, having too many eyes on something is probably counterproductive.
A new analysis of social media usage by the Obama and Romney camps during the 2012 race reveals that every @MittRomney tweet had to be approved by 22 different people. No one individual had the freedom to improvise a timely tweet while on the trail. "Romney’s digital team had to go through an extensive vetting process for all of its public communications, meaning that the temporal workflow of the campaign did not match the speed of social media," reads the paper, Seizing the Moment, by Daniel Kreiss, an assistant professor at UNC Chapel Hill.
As Romney's digital director put it, the candidate published "the best tweets ever written by 17 people." By contrast, Barack Obama's digital team wasn't handcuffed in the same manner and could strike with little delay. There was the response to Clint Eastwood's bizarre RNC speech below, and in another sign of the looser Obama operation, the president's team even tweeted out a Spotify playlist. Running a tweet by a few people seems like a totally sound idea, but it's probably gone too far when those people can fill up an entire classroom.