Seeking to Break Political Fall, Obama Opens Tumblr Account

President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign yesterday turned to the upstart blogging platform Tumblr to better reach the young audience that helped him win the election in 2008.

Run by Chicago-area staffers, the Tumblr blog asks readers to share comments, contents and jokes: “You can send us a few paragraphs about how your latest phonebanking gig went or why you’re in for 2012. Share the latest chart you saw that made you go ‘woah.’ Ask a question. Upload a photo of 2012 t-shirts or signs you see out in the wild. Pass along jokes, particularly if they’re funny. And if you’re among the Tumbl-inclined, send us posts you’ve published on your own Tumblr that we should look at re-blogging.”

Knowing there will be anti-Obama visitors to the blog, the staff says, "…remember that we’re people—fairly nice ones—and that your mother would want you to be polite.”

The embracing of a hot social platform is nothing new to the Obama political machine, as Facebook and Twitter helped rally younger troops in 2008. This time, however, the environment is clearly different. A September 2011 Washington Post-ABC News Poll found that Obama’s job ratings among Democrats, liberals and those under age 30 fell to record lows. In fact, fewer than half of adults under 30 approved of Obama. In contrast, voters under age 30 supported Obama by 2 to 1 in 2008.

Which begs the question: will the Obama campaign’s embracing of the latest social media tools have a positive effect on winning the younger demographic? Or does the economy and unemployment overshadow any digital campaign effort? Mike Herman, president of Communication Sciences International, thinks that this type of outreach still could be beneficial to Obama. “President Obama has been effective at touching people through the use of social media and the Internet,” says Herman. “The reality is that the leaders who can expand their reach, interaction and relationships in a personal and effective way, combining traditional and new media will be the ones who will be followed.”

Followed is one thing, voted for another. What do you think?