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Obama still beats Romney in digital messaging -- study

A new Pew report reveals the social media and online trends of the two presidential campaigns, and says POTUS is ahead on the online front.

While Mitt Romney is getting better at harnessing the power of the Internet for campaigning, the current POTUS still dominates the online world.

President Barack Obama's campaign has used more direct digital messaging than Romney's campaign, according to a Pew Research Center report released today.

The report notes Romney's attempts to catch up to Obama's tech savvy, with Romney's most recent stunt involving the announcement of his VP pick via an app. The report also mentions Obama's 2008 sucess with social media campaigning.

The research -- part of the center's studies over the last 12 years examining how digital technology affects presidential politics -- goes into great detail about the what the candidates posted, where they posted and how people reacted to their messaging through those channels.

The presidential hopefuls both focused on social media this season, with Obama's campaign publishing 614 posts across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and his Web site blog within a two-week period. The onslaught far outpaced Romney's 168 posts for the same platforms.

The gap was most noticeable on Twitter, according to Pew.

The Romney campaign averaged one tweet per day versus 29 from the Obama campaign (a number that includes tweets from Obama's own Twitter handle that promoted his campaign), according to the report's overview. The Obama campaign also posted about twice as many blog entries on its Web site and more than twice as many YouTube videos.

The candidates did have a few things in common. Neither, for instance, was particularly social on the networks. Neither bothered to retweet or reply very much those following them on social media. Both campaigns mainly focused on the economy in their digital messages, yet when the Pew report broke down which issues were actually retweeted and shared the most on average, the economy actually trailed most everything else. Romney's tweets on healthcare generated the most attention:

The research puts the messaging strategy in historical context. Candidates with a good understanding of evolving communication technologies tend to do better than their opponents, according to the center.

"From Franklin Roosevelt's use of radio, to John F. Kennedy's embrace of television, to Ronald Reagan's recognition of the potential for arranging the look and feel of campaign events in the age of satellites and video tape, candidates quicker to grasp the power of new technology have used that to convey a sense that they represented a new generation of leadership more in touch with where the country was heading," the report's overview reads.

To see the full report, and its many accompanying graphs, click here.