As a candidate 18 months ago, Gov. Chris Christie had relatively few fans on the Internet.
Now, Christie has amassed tens of thousands of Internet followers who could bolster a 2013 re-election bid or a run for the White House, but his support on the Web pales in comparison with other Republican stalwarts.
As candidate Barack Obama showed in 2008, social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook allow a politician to bypass traditional media filters and communicate directly with millions of followers.
That communication can backfire, too. Earlier this month, Sarah Palin, a possible contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, was widely criticized after she posted a video on Facebook following the Jan. 8 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
In the video, Palin offered her condolences, then lashed out at critics who said she showed poor judgment in posting an online map with gun sights over the districts of Giffords and 19 other Democrats who supported President Barack Obama’s health care plan. That map was posted before Giffords was shot.
Palin accused those critics of “blood libel,” a term used in the past to disparage Jews by accusing them of killing Christians to use their blood for religious rituals. Giffords is Jewish.
But while an Internet presence can cut both ways, can a state or national candidate win an election these days without it?