On Thursday afternoon, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was expected to announce he will pull out of the GOP Senate primary and run for the open Senate seat as an independent. That would leave Marco Rubio, a former state House speaker, as the presumed Republican nominee. Crist's move has the politerati all a-twitter, because it's the most dramatic indicator of the Republican Party's lurch to the right and Tea Partydom—and because it now sets up a dramatic three-way contest that will pit a right-wing Republican against an ex-Republican moderate against a Democrat (Rep. Kendrick Meek).
This election will get loads of national attention, and it will be interesting to see how social media becomes a part of it. So far, Rubio has cleaned Crist's clock in this regard. A report put out today (conveniently!) by the Emerging Media Research Council gives the stats:
* Rubio’s Web traffic has grown 251% across the last three months while Crist’s Web traffic has grown only 44%.
* YouTube: Rubio has more than 540,000 views across 135 videos; Crist’s videos have been viewed 32,000 times. *
* Facebook: Rubio maintains more than a 4-1 advantage on Facebook: 60,000 “likes” to 14,700 “likes”.
* Twitter: Rubio maintains more than a 2-1 advantage on Twitter: 11,500 followers to 5,100 followers.
This certainly reflects the intensity of the support Rubio, a Tea Party darling, has drawn locally and nationally. Rubio is a young and dynamic candidate who appeals to a die-hard band; thus, he's a natural for social media. The question is, once the older and more moderate Crist goes indie, can he also go viral?