Social media and memes’ effect on political campaigning


Photo courtesy of Google Images via Creative Commons

Emma Kelly, Writer

Social media platforms, more specifically social media humor, has proved itself to be the ideal marketplace for advertisements and campaigns. Major political candidates have found substantial success in reaching larger audiences in the online space. Additionally, these candidates have become more engaged with public criticism and blights regarding their campaigns and public presence. One of the most pressing issues politicians face on social media is their constant ability to get wrapped into online jokes and meme trends. 

John Horgan, a Canadian journalist and politician, has been the leader of the British Columbia New Democratic Party since 2014. In an article titled The meme-ification of politics: Politicians & their ‘lit’ memes, by The Conversation, British Columbia Premier John Horgan was quoted saying, “If you were woke, you’d know that pro rep is lit. “Pro Rep”, or proportional representation, is a concept not so foreign to most politicians in today’s day and age. The term itself is defined as, an electoral system in which the number of seats held by a political group or party in a legislative body is determined by the number of popular votes received. And in Morgan’s opinion, social media memes are an effective way to spread the ideas candidates are running on and hopefully encourage a more informed voting public. 

A major purpose for these political memes, as well, is the ability to engage younger audiences in politics. Although younger teenagers can not vote, in the United States general opinion of a candidate can affect the overall public’s perception of their merit and policy, regardless of who is spreading the information. 

However, the majority of information in this century is spread through online spaces, most popularly social media. The largest group occupying these spaces being, teenagers. As The Conversation’s article explains, “Memes can spread rapidly online and into popular culture due to their shareability — they are easily created, consumed, altered and disseminated. They can quickly communicate the creator’s stance on the subject. The stronger the emotional response provoked by a post, the greater the intent to spread it.” So spreading memes ultimately spreads political views.

An active follower of politics, Junior Alejandro Molina says, “If I am looking at a candidate for president, I am trying to find their purpose for running, domestic policy, and how they are going to lead the country in combating the major problems facing us all right now.” Molina represents a group of teenagers who actually follow politics in a deeper sense, and even still, he adds, “The memes and late-night monologues are really funny though and a nice bonus.” It does not matter how serious voters are about politics, social media and comedic takes are always half the battle for politicians. Jokes and memes are what is plaguing voters’ minds. After all, what is Obama’s last name?