Dogs, Babies and Beers: How Politicians Used Instagram This Year

Filtered photos show off the softer side of politics.

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 Instagram, the fun photo-filtering site and app, is still uncharted territory for many political types. In 2013, we saw major players from both parties join Instagram, but only a handful of photos became big news. Other photos marked milestones and showed that pols could have a little fun.


When first lady Michelle Obama shared a photo of she and a young President Barack Obama marking POTUS' birthday, she garnered 67.800 likes, the most popular political photo of the year. "Happy birthday, Barack! Your hair's a little grayer, but I love you more than ever," the first lady wrote. The White House also got major Instagram play. Taking a line from "Mean Girls," "Bo, stop trying to make fetch happen," happened over the summer and received 18.600 likes from users who enjoyed the movie reference and a cute picture of the first dog. Former President George W. Bush's photo of grandchild Mila dressed up like a "tiny astronaut" for Halloween was also very popular, receiving 14,000 likes.

But besides those big splashes, most politicians' photos made only minor waves. Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md., visited the set of HBO's "Veep" and Instagrammed a picture of star Julia Louis-Dreyfus taking a selfie with him. That post only received 21 likes. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., used the site to compliment Ninkasi beer, an Oregon-based brewing company, for supporting ending LGBT work discrimination. He posed with a beer, but only got 20 likes –and that's been his most popular photo.

As for milestones, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., used Instagram to introduce the world to her baby, Brynn Catherine, born on Nov. 24. Gov. Chris Christie's, R-N.J., most popular post captured "#TheGov" on his re-election night and Gabby Giffords' Instagram debut, spotlighted the strides she has made in her recovery.

Newt Gingrich marked his first day on Instagram with a quintessential Newt-at-the-zoo photo, which has remained his most popular. "#tbt hanging out with some lemur friends," Gingrich wrote, using the popular hashtag to partake in the social media ritual of posting old photos on Thursday. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has also taken part. "A 17-year-old me with then-Senator JFK. My friend who took this picture said, 'Save this! He may be President one day.' #tbt #Kennedy #muchlatergram," she wrote, posting a black and white picture with the late President John F. Kennedy, while he was still a senator.

Finally, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, used the site to debut his new shelter dogs, puppies Buckeye and Bear, and shame the GOP over the government shutdown. "This is what my family's two new #RescuePups...think of the #GOPShutdown #OverIt," he wrote, alongside a photo of two dozing doggies.