Emerging from the recent national attention surrounding the state of New Jersey comes a familiar face, Newark Mayor and Twitter superstar Cory Booker. Speculated by polling experts and journalists alike, his potential prospects moving forward include a possible bid for governor of New Jersey, placing him in position to challenge New Jersey favorite Chris Christie.
“Remember, we have a state election in 2013 and the only Democrat who shows any oomph against … Christie, the hero of Hurricane Sandy, is Newark Mayor Cory Booker,” says Quinnipiac poll director Maurice Carroll.
Despite the “oomph-factor,” Booker trails Christie in Quinnipiac’s poll by eighteen percentage points. He maintains a very strong lead, however, on the social network Twitter.
What sets Booker apart is his incredible aptitude at navigating the social media world, specifically Twitter. With almost 1.3 million followers, Booker is regarded as a super-hero by those in his community, and a social media standard to which politicians nationwide should embody.
“Social media is a powerfully democratizing force that’s given rise from everything from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street,” says the Twitter superstar.
His secret? He actively responds to users and social mentions on the network, engaging with his constituents and those beyond his jurisdiction. His dedication to transparency and engagement can be seen by looking at his Twitter feed, which is flooded with personal responses, opinions, policy attitudes, and support. Some notable acts of transparency and readiness include the following tweets:
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) November 25, 2012
On it. RT @Kipepeo_NYC: when will trash be picked up in public receptacles (Irvine Turner & W Kinney)? Not emptied since the hurricane!
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) November 22, 2012
On it. RT @Kipepeo_NYC: when will sanitation pick up debris on w. Kinney b/n Irvine Turner & Livingston ave?
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) November 22, 2012
On a less political level, the Newark mayor routinely posts inspiration quotes or advice for his followers. A tweet that read, “Be kind to one another. The energy we extend will always reflect the spirit we possess,” received 286 retweets and 97 favorites. Most politicians cannot even pay for that type of interaction.
During Hurricane Sandy, he was a valuable resource for news, updates, and support; responding to people in need of answers. He also personally took on responsibilities not typically required or expected of a mayor. Readily lending a helping hand, he invited users to message him directly for safety, medical, or roadside assistance.
His most recent Twitter triumph is his acceptance of a bet from a user, challenging him to live off of food stamps for a week. After engaging heavily with the user in a debate on the government’s role in helping those living in poverty, Booker accepted the challenge, tweeting:
Millions of employed hard working people do it everyday MT @JamesPolite: I luv that ur doing the food stamp challenge.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) November 20, 2012
It might, however, be more strategic for the social media savvy politician to set his sights on a Senate seat, as suggested by a recent Public Policy Polling study. While New Jersey voters approve of current Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), New Jersey voters have voiced that they would prefer to see Booker as a candidate in 2014 over Lautenberg by a margin of fifty-nine to twenty-two.
If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that we will surely be notified of his political future in 140 characters or less.
Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.
Mayor Booker is building a huge base through social media and probably hasn't even costed him a dollar. This is exactly what politicians should move into, but there's a level of sincerity that Booker presents. And it's great, it really shows the potential to be accountable to his constituency.
Social media isn't a tool that automatically allows politicians to connect with users. I think Booker is a great example of someone who has figured out how to engage his network.
Booker has shown phenomenal leadership in translating social media capital into real-world action. It will be tough to run against Christie, might want to wait this next cycle out.
Mayor Booker is an upstanding individual. I would like to the former Rhodes Scholar as a Senator than Governor because he would be able to have a greater impact on the nation as a national legislator over a state executive. Besides, Sen. Lautenberg already retired once and opened the door to Corzine to run for office. I'm not comparing Booker to Corzine in the way they think, but Corzine went from short-term senator to governor; something Booker may try to do after Christie goes for the White House in 2016.
Agreed. Booker is a "real guy" ... I think that's a commonality he and Christie share. They are and act on their own accord ... makes them very attractive to the average voter.