Sept. 25--The first wide-open mayoral primary contest since the social media revolution stayed remarkably old-fashioned, as candidates and voters chose retail politics and door-knocking over Twitter and Facebook.
Unlike in recent national and statewide races, the number of followers a candidate had on social media meant nothing about their overall popularity in Boston. Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, one of the front- runners, had a modest Twitter following of 1,543. City Councilor Felix G. Arroyo, who lagged in polls throughout the campaign, beat Conley in the virtual war with 4,919 followers as of last night.
Little-known fact: Charlotte Golar Richie's campaign released an app. It was a clever idea, enabling anyone with an Android or iPhone to write messages of support on a virtual "wall," donate money instantly or follow her on social media.
But Golar Richie's app didn't take off, with only one message on that virtual wall as of yesterday, only four videos posted by the campaign and no comments on those various posts.
With 12 hopefuls struggling to distinguish themselves and their message, there was simply no time for virtual distractions -- the infighting and in-jokes and pranks and anonymous sniping that can often occur in the insular back-and-forth of social media echo chambers.
Instead, candidates worked phones and hit doorsteps and pubs and churches, and also ran TV and radio ads.
The old-school field didn't reflect the habits of the electorate.
In the 24 hours leading up to the close of the polls last night, 900 tweets with the hashtag #bosmayor showed up in a whopping 4 million timelines, according to Hashtracking.
Campaigns did make a final push on Twitter and Facebook to get out the vote yesterday. Candidates asked voters to change their Facebook profile pictures to show their support. And a last-minute message from City Councilor Mike Ross notified supporters of an expected low turnout.