Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell touts key social media milestone

Author: Ernest Luning - May 12, 2017 - Updated: May 12, 2017

Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell's campaign's Facebook page has more than 11,000 fans on Friday, May 12, 2017, according to the social media site's analytics. (Screenshot via Facebook)
Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell’s campaign’s Facebook page has more than 11,000 fans on Friday, May 12, 2017, according to the social media site’s analytics. (Screenshot via Facebook)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell has amassed more than 10,000 fans of his candidate page on Facebook, the businessman and former state lawmaker said this week, achieving what his campaign maintains is a significant benchmark 18 months before the election.

“Our campaign is off to an incredible start, and it’s humbling that so many have joined our movement to take our governorship back,” Mitchell said. “Our unique and substantive campaign of fresh and bold ideas to move Colorado forward is clearly resonating.”

Mitchell boasted that more than half a million Coloradans have watched his online issue videos. In addition, he said, he’s meeting voters at two events a day, on average, and has already visited 40 of the state’s 64 counties. “Our campaign will continue to be both grassroots and high-tech,” he said.

Mitchell’s campaign is adding Facebook fans — “likes” and “follows” attached to his campaign’s page — at a brisk clip, with more than 11,000 showing on Friday, up 20 percent in the last week, according to the site’s analytics. That’s more than twice as many fans as businessman Doug Robinson, his nearest competitor among declared Republican candidates, can boast, and more than State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a likely candidate, has racked up in the roughly six years he’s held statewide office, Mitchell’s campaign points out.

But while the Mitchell campaign has accumulated more fans on the social media platform than his primary rivals in the roughly three months since entering the race — he’s ahead of the Democrats using the same measure, too — a GOP strategist cautioned against reading too much into the numbers.

It’s no revelation that candidates can gain followers by spending lots of money on online advertising, said the strategist, who discussed the matter with The Colorado Statesman on condition of anonymity in order to speak frankly about an intra-party race.

“Facebook ‘likes’ are not a good indicator of how much traction a candidate is gaining in a political race,” he said. “Instead, they are a product of how much a candidate is willing to spend to generate ‘likes.’ Based on his last filing, it would appear that Vic has spent considerable funds on his ‘Like Builder’ program with not much to show for it.”

Mitchell’s campaign can likely afford to spend “considerable funds,” since the candidate seeded his coffers with a $3 million donation when he got in the race.

A Mitchell campaign advisor acknowledges the campaign has been paying for digital advertising — campaign finance reports covering the first three months of the year show Mitchell paid Washington-based Go Big Media, Inc., roughly $125,000 in March — but contends that investing in social media this early in the campaign can yield enormous benefits.

“We’re ecstatic, we’re happy that we’re over 10,000 fans,” said consultant David Hill.

“There’s no perfect relationship between Facebook fans and the vote, but what’s important is the trend and direction — are you making progress, are you moving up? It’s a very useful barometer,” he said.

The campaign is keeping track of impressions and engagement across a range of social media platforms — including the campaign website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — but Facebook is what’s most important at this stage, Hill said.

“Our key focus right now, more than anything else, is Facebook. Facebook is probably the best medium for reaching primary voters, and particularly women primary voters,” he said.

Hill said the vast majority of the Mitchell campaign’s Facebook fans are Colorado residents, citing a report generated by a digital media firm. (That level of detail isn’t publicly available for Facebook pages.)

“These are hard numbers you’re getting on a regular basis. There’s a scoreboard every week. We see how we’re doing and how our opponents are doing, so there’s accountability.”

Among the declared and likely Republican gubernatorial candidates, Stapleton comes in second according to the metric Mitchell is touting, with 9,369 “likes,” followed by Robinson’s 4,023. Prosecutor George Brauchler is running fourth, with 3,044, Loveland retiree JoAnne Silva has 113 “likes,” and Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III trails with 43.

The figures for the candidate’s campaign or politician pages were current late Friday afternoon.

Former state Sen. Mike Johnston leads the Democrats using the Facebook fan measure with 9,730 “likes,” followed by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter with 4,811, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy’s 1,924, and businessman Noel Ginsburg with 442. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who has said he’s weighing whether to get in the race, however, outpaces all the rest, with his congressional candidacy’s page counting 12,395.


Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.