Tweet, like, and vote: Social media in modern campaigns

Ralph Hall’s Twitter-less outreach

Meanwhile, in Texas, Congressman Ralph Hall is in the midst of his own reelection campaign. Hall has served in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 4th district of Texas (which stretches along the state's border with Oklahoma and Arkansas northeast of Dallas) since 1981, the first 24 years as a Democrat and the past 8 years as a Republican; and he's up for reelection to yet another two-year term. Last May, Hall swept to victory in the Republican primary against two challengers—Steve Clark and Lou Gigliotti—picking up 58 percent of the votes. According to Human Events author John Hayward, “It is extremely unlikely that Hall will lose the general election, so his seventeenth Congressional term is pretty much in hand.” Indeed, as Wikipedia notes, only four people have represented Texas's 4th congressional district since 1903.

Still, in an age where many other political figures use Web tools to reach out to voters, the 89-year old Hall is noticeably absent from the social media scene. He has a Facebook page, of course, but instead of offering personalized posts interspersed with campaign info, his only posts are links to press releases on his website. His most recent post (at this writing) came on September 11 of this year, and it garnered just 2364 likes.

Hall's Facebook photos—posing stiffly with other politicians or attending other press events—show him as a man of politics but reveal little about his personality.

Hall has no Twitter account and no YouTube channel—in fact, his campaign website lacks video content altogether. And though he is chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (which Todd Akin also serves on), he seems to be wary of adapting his campaign to growing technology trends. He takes a position in favor of furthering research and development investment to build stronger communication technologies here in the United States, but the issue he seems most dedicated to is changing the policies of the Environmental Protection Agency.

What explains Hall's hesitation to embrace social media? The likeliest reason is simply that his current campaign methods of town-hall gatherings, public appearances, and other in-person meetings with constituents continue to work so well for him.

Hall relies heavily on outside press interviews to help spread his message. He has written op-ed pieces and has sat for interviews with the Washington Times; he has contributed to The Hill’s Congress Blog; and he is featured in several Texas-based publications.

In any event, Hall’s district likes him enough to reelect him term after term. He’s a fierce advocate for his home district ("I'd rather be respected at home than liked in Washington," he writes in his bio on his personal website); he fights for job creation; and he went skydiving on Memorial Day earlier this year to show support for the troops overseas and to demonstrate that he remains vigorous and active at the age of 89. “Sometimes you have to do crazy things,” Hall said of the experience. And for Ralph Hall, "crazy" could very well translate into another term in office in the House of Representatives.

(Hall and his team declined to comment to PCWorld in connection with this story.)

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