Old-fashioned yard signs sprout on late-summer lawns, but high-tech communications tools hold the dominant place in Georgia political campaigns this year.

With highly competitive U.S. Senate and governor’s races gaining national attention, social media show unprecedented power in Georgia. In 2012, President Obama’s campaign used sophisticated computer metrics to defeat Republican Milt Romney. Yet with Georgia firmly in the GOP column and not a battleground state, and no major state races, social media were less significant here.

Two years later, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are rapid-fire information battlegrounds in the fiercely contested campaigns. Dueling text messages flash across mobile phones and e-mail blasts flare into mailboxes. Video ads play on web sites as well as TVs.

“This is the future of campaigning,” Georgia State political science professor Sean Richey said.

Social media’s rise in Georgia matches the nation, Richey said. “All of the campaigns are doing this more,” he said. With super Pac spending rising, “These are basically nationalized races,” he said. “They’re basically professionalizing these campaigns.” 

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