Every Democratic presidential candidate takes selfies, but no one is as precise or prolific as Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts senator, who has defined her campaign with a never-ending stream of plans she would attempt to enact as president, doesn’t just take pictures with supporters; she “has systematized and optimized photo-taking for maximum efficiency while keeping detailed metrics of their progress,” NBC News reports.
Warren’s campaign says she has spent more than 90 hours meeting voters on what the campaign calls a “selfie line,” resulting in some 28,000 pics that aren’t technically selfies (a campaign aide typically takes the pictures). The process of taking the pictures, which Warren’s campaign says she has time for because she’s not courting big donors, is part of the strategy. Warren hopes to connect with voters she meets, and, as she told CNN in March, she can often learn something in these brief interactions:
”Sometimes it’s an issue that really matters to them and someone will say to me: ‘I’ve got $68,000 in student loan debt. I’m teaching public school. There’s no way I can hold this together,’” she told CNN. “Or, ‘I have a child with a serious illness and all of her life she’s going to have had a preexisting condition. Please don’t let them change the law.’”
But what happens after the picture is taken is part of the strategy, too. The campaign wants supporters to post them on social media and flood the timelines of friends and families with a smiling Warren next to someone they know. The pictures function as free advertising for the candidate in an extremely crowded field, and according to new analysis, they’re breaking through.
It’s paid off on social media, according to an analysis performed by Zignal Labs, a media intelligence firm, at the request of NBC News.
“Elizabeth Warren is the candidate most associated with the term ‘selfies’ over the past month by a wide margin, and with mostly positive public sentiment around it,” Zignal Labs CEO Josh Ginsberg said.
The campaign tracks these “selfies” so meticulously that in May, it was able to mark the occasion of Warren’s 20,000th.
And then, a few weeks later, her 25,000th.
The Warren campaign’s focus on the strategy has even been credited with pushing other candidates to take selfies more seriously. In late May, Bernie Sanders assembled his first selfie lines, telling voters to line up after several New Hampshire events to snap a pic. He’s still working on his selfie smile.