I was on edge last night, using every social media outlet possible to follow the Question 1 vote in Maine.
It seemed like a sure-bet win for No on Question 1. If it passed, gay marriage in Maine would be repealed.
Not only did Governor John Baldacci completely change his views, coming over to support No On Question 1, but honestly, how could the Right defeat us on Question 1 after we already lost Prop8 in California earlier this year?
I was wrong. This morning I learned that Maine voters repealed their gay marriage law. No on Question 1 lost, 47.23% to 52.77%.
Here are a few snippets showing how I used Twitter to follow discussions about Question 1:
Twitter Hashtag Search (search.twitter.com)
Here are a few thoughtful, liberal-minded quotes I gathered this morning from Twitterers who are upset by the Maine Question 1 results:
And here’s some straight up conservative quotes from #VoteYesOn1 conservatives, reaffirming the usual false, God/faith-based arguments used to spew hate and bigotry, and undermine LGBT people:
I’ll continue following these hashtags by leaving a search.twitter.com tabs open. In one tab, I have a search for #VoteNoOn1, and in another I have #VoteYesOn1.
I’ve also set-up RSS feeds for the specific Twitter search terms, and dropped them into my Google Reader. This is an easier way to toggle between different feeds.
I’m also using the fantastic Twitter client Hootsuite to organize each of these searches. I created a new tab on my Hootsuite account called “Maine Question 1.” Within this tab, I set-up columns for each of these Question 1 searches:
- column one: keyword tracking for #VoteNoOn1, #NoOn1
- column two: keyword tracking for #VoteYesOn1, #YesOn1;
- column three: search for Maine
- column four: search for Question 1
- column five: keyword tracking for #lgbt, #gaymarriage
Of course, Twitter by no means replaces traditional journalism; I’ve been following the entire Maine story through journalist Rex Wockner and the Bangor Daily News.
My goal with new media observations like these is to marry traditional journalism with new media.
As I write this, I’m still puzzling over how this seemingly sure-fire win on the progressive side lost. And I’m surprised that, even though the left organized much better on social media sites like Twitter and raised more money on the ground than the YesOn1 campaign, NoOn1 still fell short in the final election counts.
Twitter, like any social media platform, is a place where people engage in discussion and share information. It’s thrilling to see the conversations and photo galleries as they unfold in real-time, on the night of the election, and during the morning after.
But if we’re going to change peoples’ minds, is Twitter the place to do it? As with any grassroots organizing campaign, education begins at home, in our local communities and within our local government. If we can change that, maybe we really will have a shot at equal rights for all.
Interested in tracking elections on Twitter and other social media platforms?
This Mashable article gives a nice rundown of how citizens, citizen journalists and journalists alike used Twitter and social media tools to track the Iranian elections.