BY JAMES JOHNSON–Rep. Charles Djou (HI-1) and Rep. Mazie Hirono (HI-2) have become prolific users of the social media website Twitter during the 2010 campaign season. The tool is used by both politicians to directly interact with supporters and critics alike–but the content difference of the Tweets is stark.
(A “Tweet” is a micro-blog message limited to 140 characters, which can include links to websites, photos and videos).
Between Friday, Sept. 17, and Friday, Sept. 24, Hirono (@maziehirono) sent 12 Tweets. Of those, five touted federal funding the congresswoman helped secure for Hawaii. Another announced her vote for the establishment of a $30 billion fund designed to encourage banks to lend to small businesses.
During the same period, Djou (@RepCharlesDjou) tweeted 26 times. Nine of those blasted “unprecedented fiscal irresponsibility,” tweeting “Spending is out of control. We cannot continue with more government programs. We need more private sector jobs.” Three went against the idea of tax increases.
Aside from fiscal issues, the remaining Tweets throughout the week also revealed differences. Hirono’s had a relaxed feel to them, tweeting links to pictures of a D.C. “Aloha Friday,” and a message about a speech given at Georgetown University. Djou, locked in a tight re-election campaign, sent a flurry of Tweets about the GOPs “Pledge to America,” and wished a supporter a “happy Constitution Day.”
While Djou’s Tweets feel like he is in campaign mode, his opponent Colleen Hanabusa’s Tweets have made that point perfectly clear. Sending 85 Tweets between the 17th and 24th, Hanabusa (@ColleenHanabusa) re-tweeted supporters who said they were “pounding the pavement and knocking on doors for @ColleenHanabusa!” Another Tweet implored “Are you young? Are you a Democrat? Have we got a phone bank for you!” She used her Twitter account to speak directly with her campaign staff, “STAFF We have plenty to do at campaign HQ. Stop by for an hour or two and help get out the vote!”
Djou also has an account, @Djou4Hawaii, where he thanks campaign volunteers and offers sneak peeks to his latest commercials. While the state’s lone Republican congressman has mostly ignored his opponent on Twitter, Hanabusa hit out this week, tweeting “.@RepCharlesDjou voted to deny Hawai’i businesses access to credit to create jobs for Hawai’i families,” referring to the $30 billion measure which passed the house on a 237-187 vote.
Twitter can be a measure of a candidate’s popularity. During the 2008 presidential campaign, then candidate Barack Obama famously secured more than 100,000 Twitter followers at time when Twitter was not as well known as it is today. As of Sept. 25, 2010, Djou has 1,187 followers (1,600 follow @Djou4Hawaii), Hanabusa has 1,061 and Hirono 465.
Of course, unless you are a major celebrity, securing followers on Twitter requires some effort. Hanabusa may soon overtake Djou in the Twitter race thanks to Tweets like this from last week: “STAFF We’re 7 followers away from 900. Be number 900 and get a t-shirt, bumper sticker, or yard sign!”
For the record, @HawaiiReporter has 1,832 followers, you can join them by going to www.twitter.com/HawaiiReporter.