Candidates rely more on social media in spring elections

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In the run-up to this week’s municipal elections across the metro, there’s a good chance you came across more campaign commercials on YouTube and Instagram than on traditional TV and radio.

“With so many candidates (in the KC mayoral primary race) and such a small turnout, somebody might win by twenty votes,” Phil LeVota, a local political analyst, said. “So every vote is going to count, every email, every Facebook ad is going to count.”

LeVota said targeted, online campaign messages make more sense in a crowded field, especially in a local election.

Unlike TV ads, which blanket the airwaves for state and federal races, candidates in local races can use social media to zero in on potential voters using online demographic information.

“They knew who you are, they know what your likes are and they presuppose that they’re going to be their type of voter,” LeVota said.

LeVota expects the two finalists in the Kansas City mayoral primary, Councilmembers Jolie Justus and Quinton Lucas, will shift to more traditional campaign commercials in the upcoming general election on June 18.

“Once we narrow down to two, you’re going to see them go back to traditional elections means,” LeVota said. “A lot of mailers in the mailbox and you’ll get phone calls and TV on our major network channels.”

Of all the candidates in the KC mayoral primary, Lucas was the only candidate who paid for television advertising on the majority of the local TV stations (including FOX4), according to publicly available FCC online files.

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