8 viral memes from the 2012 election

EZsocialmedia Resource Picks:

The Internet agrees:

The big winner from Tuesday’s night debate was neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney, but the phrase “binders full of women.”

In case you missed it, Romney said that when he staffed his cabinet as governor of Massachusetts, his aides brought him a “binder full of women” from which to select his key advisors. The term caught fire on social media, birthing several websites, a Twitter account, a Tumblr feed, and reams of tweets.

That’s what you call a meme, a pop culture topic that quickly goes viral online.

The 2012 presidential election has launched a number of memes. Here are eight of them (in no particular order):

“You didn’t build that”

Obama’s critics pounced on a statement he made in July, in which he said, “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” The Romney campaign repeated the line, suggesting the president was referring to small businesses when he said “that.” In fact, Obama was referring to infrastructure. Still, the attacks drew blood and the statement led to images, hashtags, and at least one rap video set to “U Can’t Touch This.”

Etch A Sketch

In March, Romney’s top aide went on CNN and compared the candidate to an Etch A Sketch, explaining that once the general election campaign starts, Romney can “kind of shake it up and restart it all over again.” Republican opponents of Romney blasted the statements, saying they reveal that he’s not a true conservative. The big winner from this meme, however, was the toy company that makes Etch A Sketch. It jumped on the comment, issuing a pun-heavy statement that became a trending topic on Twitter.


“47 percent”

Before Gov. Romney shifted the narrative with his decisive performance in the first presidential debate, journalists were declaring “47 percent” his Waterloo. In a secretly taped video at a private fundraiser held this year, Romney said that the “47 percent” of the nation who support President Obama are dependent on the government and that Romney’s job “is not to worry about those people.” The statement exploded on social media and—beyond its political implications—led to a number of humorous images.

Hey, Girl, It’s Paul Ryan

A popular topic across all spectrums is the “Hey, Girl” meme, featuring the actor Ryan Gosling. Naturally, a Tumblr account “Hey, Girl, It’s Paul Ryan” was started. It struck gold when pictures of the vice presidential candidate pumping iron hit the Web last week.

Clint Eastwood’s chair

At the Republican National Convention in August, Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood made a surprise appearance, in which he talked to an empty chair (meant to represent President Obama). Twitter went nuts, and the night will go down in social media history not as Romney’s triumphant moment, but as that of Eastwood’s bizarre speech.

Big Bird

During the first debate, Romney said he would cut federal funding for PBS and indicated that the beloved Big Bird was on the chopping block. The Internet pounced, PBS pivoted off the comment to launch its own response against Romney assertions on public media, and the Obama campaign co-opted Big Bird for a humorous ad.

“Binders full of women”


The Tumblr account that started after Romney’s remark borrows from another popular political meme, Texts from Hillary.

Laughing Joe Biden



Vice President Biden seemed to be having fun during his debate with Paul Ryan last week—jousting, grinning, and laughing with (and at) his opponent. Images of the vice president laughing went viral and led to a Twitter account. The Romney campaign, meanwhile, used laughing Joe Biden as part of an attack ad.

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