Social media helped defeat Vaughn Ward in the Republican primary election Tuesday, according to a Raul Labrador spokesman. Labrador defeated Ward in the GOP primary May 25. Two videos brought the national spotlight to Idaho’s 1st Congressional District and bridged a gap in communication between two geographically separated areas of the state. Social media will continue to play a pivotal role as the two candidates vying for the congressional seat vow to continue to use social media to spread their messages.
A few weeks ago, Dan Popkey, a writer for the Idaho Statesman, wrote that Ward had borrowed wording from a speech he gave in March from then-Sen. Barack Obama's address at the 2004 Democratic convention. IdahoReporter.com picked up on the story and added individual video clips of Obama and Ward giving their speeches, which can be seen here:
Obama in 2004:
Ward in 2010:
Lucas Baumbach, a legislative candidate for the Idaho State Senate, ardent Labrador supporter, and Tea Party Activist, took the two videos and edited them to put them side-by-side in one video presentation. Baumbach admitted Wednesday to a reporter with the Spokesman Review that his video was a piece of propaganda meant to destroy the Ward campaign. He also told the writer that he had done considerable editing to alter the videos to make them look like Ward was matching Obama word-for-word.
Baumbach's video made a considerable splash in the local and national media. It was picked up by national news outlets Politico, Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, Salon, and even received a mention by the New York Times and comedian Jay Leno, who played the mashup on his show Tuesday, election night. All in all, Baumbach's video has been viewed more than 100,000 times, with 88,000 of those coming on his campaign YouTube channel and 20,000 more on another channel. He told IdahoReporter.com Tuesday that he hadn't expected the video to make such a splash, but was glad that it did. Baumbach said that the video likely hurt Ward the most among potential voters who were also in the armed services because, as he said, plagiarizing parts of a speech is incongruent with the values of honor and integrity taught in the military. Ward is a decorated veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Baumbach said one of the reasons the video amassed such popularity was who Ward borrowed the rhetoric from:
The Baumbach video wasn't the only problematic piece of footage out there on YouTube. At a primary debate in Post Falls a week before Tuesday's election, Ward incorrectly stated that Puerto Rico is a foreign country. Collin Mansfield, son of Labrador's campaign spokesman Dennis Mansfield, posted video of the verbal slipup, in which also said that he doesn't care about what the tiny island is. Though Mansfield's video did not reach the heights of Baumbach's, it has received more than 20,000 views, and also garnered national headlines.
Ward/Labrador debate in Post Falls:
Social media, according to Labrador spokesman Dennis Mansfield, has altered the campaign landscape forever. Even 10 years ago, the Ward remark about Puerto Rico might have been contained to the northern portion of the state, which is hundreds of miles away from Boise, the media hub of Idaho. The videos put out by Baumbach and Collin Mansfield easily bridged that gap and an even bigger one - from Boise to the two media hubs of the United States, New York City and Washington, D.C. The elder Mansfield said that social media was the defining factor in Labrador's victory over Ward and the main reason Labrador prevailed in Tuesday's contest.
The effective utilization of social media outlets, including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, will become increasingly important as Labrador heads into November's general election. John Foster, spokesman for Labrador's opponent, freshman Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick, is experienced in the ways of social media and will be implementing the use of it throughout various aspects of the campaign. In an announcement earlier this week, Foster promised to use social media tools to re-engage voters from the 2008 election, in which Minnick ousted the Republican incumbent, and push Minnick supporters to share messages of support for their candidate through networking sites.