Every presidential election in recent history has been called “the most important election of our lifetime.”
While that may or may not be true this time around, it can be said with certainty that 2016 will be remembered as the Social Media Election.
Here are ten of the biggest moments from the intersection of technology and politics:
9. Photoshop War between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush
Back in August, Jeb Bush (please clap) was widely seen as the establishment’s choice for the GOP nomination.
While the buzz surrounding his campaign and fundraising success quickly fizzled, Bush was able to engage in a pretty epic Twitter war with Hillary Clinton over student debt.
After a few exchanges and some pretty embarrassing smack talk between the candidates, Jeb dealt the decisive blow. His campaign reworked Clinton’s ‘H’ logo to indicate that her student debt plan would increase taxes. Bush dropped out of the race only six months later, however it can be said that his team’s excellent Photoshop skills earned him a victory in this instance.
8. House Democrats Stage a Sit-In
Following the Orlando Terror Attack last month, Senate Democrats began introducing gun control legislation.
After those measures were unable to pass, the Democrats in the House of Representatives decided to take matters into their own hands. They staged a sit-in on the House floor, prompting Leader Paul Ryan to call the session into recess.
In doing so, Ryan ended streaming of House procedure on C SPAN. Surprisingly, a few members of the House knew how to access Facebook Live and Periscope, allowing the footage to continue to spread over social media.
Regardless of where you stand on gun control, this is just another sign of the role social media has begun to play within politics.
7. Bobby Jindal’s Campaign Launch
The 2016 election cycle saw a number of campaigns launch with videos posted to social media platforms.
Conversely, Bobby Jindal (R-LA) announced his candidacy with a video posted to Facebook that had people calling it “creepy” and “uncomfortable”. In the already crowded GOP presidential field, the launch flopped and Jindal dropped out of the race a short time after.
6. Lindsey Graham Destroys His Cell Phone
Donald Trump released South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham’s personal phone number last July...because that’s where we’re at, America.
Rather than change his number, Lindsey decided to score some press off of the situation.
He posted a video to YouTube in which he uses a meat cleaver, golf club, and other objects to destroy his Verizon phone.
He continues on to put the phone in a blender and a toaster then throws it off a roof. The video garnered the Senator some much needed press time, though his poll numbers never rose above 1%.
5. Trump’s “Star of David” Tweet
Last week, Donald Trump tweeted a photo slamming rival Hillary Clinton as the “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever”.
The tweet went viral; not for its message necessarily, but for the images used in the poorly Photoshopped picture.
The photo shows Clinton with a backdrop of cash, with the “corrupt” verbiage set inside a six pointed star.
The tweet was widely seen as anti-semitic, despite the Trump campaign’s calling it a “Sheriff's Star” and later replacing the star with a circle overlay.
The tweet was later deleted, though Trump continued the conversation by posting a tweet featuring a Frozen book with a star sticker on the front. “Where’s the outrage for this Disney book?” Trump tweeted, enraging thousands of Frozen fans on the platform.
Hillary Clinton replied to the tweet with a simple “Do You Want to Build a Strawman?”, showing that neither candidate is ready to “Let It Go”... (it had to be done).
4. Birdie Sanders
On March 25, during a rally in Portland, Oregon, a bird landed on Bernie Sander’s podium, made eye contact with the candidate, and flew away.
That’s all it took for the internet to melt and for social media to go absolutely insane.
Immediately, the campaign began pushing stickers and images of the bird (now nicknamed Birdie Sanders) in exchange for donations.
In just a few days, Bernie raised $3.6 million in digital donations thanks to Birdie.
The Sanders campaign capitalized on the event, separating it from other viral moments.
Politicians previously saw social media as a means of branding and message disbursement. Bernie revolutionized social media in politics, proving that it can and should be used for digital donations.
3. “Delete Your Account”
Donald Trump has far and away dominated the field in Twitter usage this election season.
Whether you like what he has to say or not, his name has become virtually synonymous with the platform.
Yet for a brief moment a few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton’s account stole the spotlight. After President Obama endorsed Clinton, Trump took to Twitter to tweet out his displeasure: “Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama- but nobody else does!”.
Rather than ignore her rival, Clinton engaged with a mic dropping response: “Delete your account’.
Social media blew up, as Clinton backers began using the simple three words to engage Trump and his supporters.
Even Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) got in on the action, once using the phrase as a response during her ongoing Twitter war with Trump.
Hashtags have dominated the current election cycle, but none have had the staying power like #FeelTheBern.
Created by Winnie Wong, a Bernie Sanders supporter and digital strategist for People for Bernie, the hashtag has been embraced by the Sanders campaign.
The slogan spread like wildfire over all social media platforms and now is plastered on t shirts, bumper stickers, and even Snapchat filters.
Other campaigns have tried to replicate its impact with hashtags like #ImWithHer or #NeverHillary, but none have been as pervasive as #FeelTheBern.
1. Donald Trump’s Twitter Account
Whether you love him or loathe him, we can all agree that the Donald has taken social media in politics to the next level.
From branding his rivals (here’s to you Little Marco) to attacking the mainstream media, Trump has taken over the Twitterverse one tweet at a time.
What are you favorite social media moments (so far) from the election? Let us know in the comments!\