(NEW YORK) — If only Mitt Romney had had a few thousand more Twitter followers and Facebook friends, the 2012 election might have turned out differently.
So say Bret Jacobson and Ian Spencer, millennial techies and co-founders of the conservative digital strategy group Red Edge. The high-tech entrepreneurs believe the failed GOP presidential nominee could have defeated President Obama simply with a better showing on social media.
“If you had run a really competent, really aggressive digital campaign, you probably could have won an Electoral College vote,” says Jacobson of the 2012 election. “The difference is roughly 450,000 in a couple swing states and you could more than make up for that difference.”
These are the bold claims from a dynamic duo that is leading the charge for a Republican Party reboot. Jacobson and Spencer say they are convinced that despite previous failed attempts, the party can surpass Democrats’ social media machine by the 2016 presidential race.
The Obama campaign was “incredibly good at empowering people to receive and share information” on the web, Facebook in particular, which allowed the organizers and fundraisers to build individualized voter profiles based on people’s profile information, Jacobson says.
“They were able to specifically reach out and…help identify these people who need to register to vote,” he says. “And it turns out that after a million people logged in, they actually yielded a million real world voter registrations and votes from those people, which is really powerful stuff.”
For Republicans to match, the Red Edge guys want an extreme makeover: bringing “Internet culture into the Republican culture,” and ultimately tapping a tech-savvy candidate who can build a strong digital following.
Who among early 2016 candidates has an early edge? “Rand Paul,” says Spencer of the Kentucky Republican senator.
“In terms of the grassroots support his father [Ron Paul] has enjoyed, many of whom also support him, I think he’s in a kind of unique position to really make some waves online…because there’s so many small dollar donors who, who went to Ron and who may now go to Rand,” he said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Eric Bradner, Jeff Zeleny and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN
Eric Bradner, CNN
Jim Acosta, Dana Bash and Tal Kopan, CNN