Can Digital Media Help El Pres Become Boston’s Next Mayor?

John Pinkham

He cracks inappropriate jokes, sells t-shirts to make his money, throws raves at colleges and makes controversial statements every other week. But by this November, he might just be Boston’s next mayor.

Dave Portnoy, aka “El Pres”, President and Founder of the Barstool Sports empire, officially announced his candidacy for Mayor of Boston on April 17, 2013. While a lot of people thought this was just a joke to get page views on his blog, he is actually serious. Sure it may just be meant for comedy and maybe to get some attention, but what’s serious is that he has an excellent chance at winning.

His chances have nothing to do with politics. While he is not afraid to take a stance on anything, he will not win this election based on how well he debates or what his views are on certain issues. Portnoy has something none of the other candidates can claim: a digital presence.

Some people say that one of Barack Obama’s keys to victory in the most recent presidential election came to his resounding win in the social media battle. Obama was able to appeal to the younger voters thanks to $47 million spent on his digital campaign. He had a far greater reach on social media than Mitt Romney did, a major factor in reaching the younger demographic voters.

The reality of it is that Portnoy doesn’t have to spend anywhere close to that to win the social media battle. Barstool has grown extremely popular over the years, especially in Boston. His digital presence is easily the best out of all the candidates and his strongest quality. Portnoy’s challenge won’t be reaching the young demographic online, but rather to actually encouraging them to actually vote. If he can figure out a way to do that, there might be no stopping him.

The city of Boston has a population of 625,087, with 35% of those people aged 20-35. Sure this doesn’t mean that everyone in that age bracket is registered and a majority of them won’t end up voting, but Thomas Menino won the election in 2009 with 63,000 votes. Even if you figure no one over the age of 30 will vote for Portnoy, he has a large pool to voters to focus on, most of whom will be reachable via digital media.

If Davey Pageviews is serious about running for mayor, he should just stick to owning the social media part of this election. Digital media has become a real force not only in PR and advertising, but now a large component of major elections--a trend that will continue to grow. We saw it help Obama get reelected, and we could see it promote the founder of a controversial website to gaining the city’s mayor seat. This election is wide open, and not much could stop Portnoy from victory.

Unless of course Ed Davis decides to run, in which case everyone else should drop out. He would get 100% of the vote easily.

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