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Conservatives, it is generally acknowledged, have so far had the upper hand in the viral content wars. Mr. Trump spent many millions less than his opponents did on traditional TV advertising, but benefited from an army of amateur creators who flooded social media with pro-Trump messages.

The edgy, boundary-crossing humor beloved by the “memelords” who fill Reddit and 4 Chan was a natural fit for the Trump campaign’s loose-cannon messaging style, and it worked. According to a study by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, who analyzed high-performing social media posts during the final two months of the campaign, nearly two-thirds of the most popular election tweets were either anti-Clinton or pro-Trump.

Now, some Democrats are hoping to close that gap by building their own viral content studios. Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn, and Mark Pincus, a co-founder of Zynga, announced this year that they had spent $500,000 to establish a group called Win the Future, which would, among other things, allow users to vote for popular user-generated messages to be turned into real-life billboards in Washington.

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