The Internet- A powerful force for Political Campaigning…

Posted: March 27, 2011 in Com 125 (b) Intro to internet

The Internet and other high-tech communications gadgets have become increasingly important in political campaigns around the world. But the question that nobody is asking is this: Has modern technology really enhanced the way we choose our leaders?

A Political campaign defined…

A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group. The message of the campaign contains the ideas that the candidate wants to share with the voters. The message often consists of several talking points about policy issues. The points summarize the main ideas of the campaign and are repeated frequently in order to create a lasting impression with the voters.

The Power of Internet on political campaign…

The internet is now a core element of modern political campaigns. Communication technologies such as e-mail, web sites, and podcasts enable faster communications by citizen movements and deliver a message to a large audience. These Internet technologies are used for cause-related fundraising, lobbying, volunteering, community building, and organizing. Individual political candidates are also using the internet to promote their election campaign. Campaigns are now studying popular Internet social networks, like Facebook, as ways to reaching groups of potential supporters with similar political views or cultural interests.

Such revolution has allowed a low cost, yet an efficient method of mobilizing voters and increasing participation among various voter populations. This new media was incredibly successful at reaching the younger population while helping all populations organize and promote action.

Analysts say the campaign television advertisement, already diminishing in influence with the proliferation of cable stations, faces new challenges as campaigns experiment with technology that allows direct messaging to more specific audiences, and through unconventional means.

Those include Podcasts featuring a daily downloaded message from a candidate and so-called viral attack videos, designed to trigger peer-to-peer distribution by e-mail chains, without being associated with any candidate or campaign.

Obama’s PRESIDENTIAL Campaign 2008…

Signifying the importance of internet political campaigning, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign relied heavily on social media (including Facebook, YouTube and a custom generated social engine), and new media channels to engage voters, recruit campaign volunteers, raise campaign funds and to reach new target segments.

“The tools changed between 2004 and 2008. Barack Obama won every single caucus state that matters, and he did it because of those tools, because he was able to move thousands of people to organize.”

Mr. Obama’s campaign took advantage of YouTube for free advertising. Mr. Trippi argued that those videos were more effective than television ads because viewers chose to watch them or received them from a friend instead of having their television shows interrupted.

“The campaign’s official stuff they created for YouTube was watched for 14.5 million hours,” Mr. Trippi said. “To buy 14.5 million hours on broadcast TV is $47 million.”

The Internet also let people repeatedly listen to the candidates’ own words in the face of attacks, Mr. Huffington said. As Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s incendiary words kept surfacing, people could re-watch Mr. Obama’s speech on race. To date, 6.7 million people have watched the 37-minute speech on YouTube.

For all the attention being paid to Internet technology, there remain definite limitations to its reach…

However, as modern technology continues to adapt to changes in society, Internet campaigning will never be able to serve as a complete replacement for traditional political campaigning without reducing the significant barriers to entry.

Internet political campaigning leaves out entire portions of each population because it only is accessible to a certain portion of the population, leaving those without this access disconnected.

For example, during Obama’s recent presidential campaign, Internet political campaigning was effective at reaching the younger population, as they remain engaged with social websites and new media. Because of the limits of technology, Obama’s Internet campaign failed to reach older generations (Americans over 65) who tend to be the nation’s most reliable voters and didn’t use this new media, as well as significant amounts of the population who didn’t have access.

Moreover while the Internet is efficient at reaching supporters, who tend to visit and linger at political sites, it has proved to be much less effective at swaying voters who are not interested in politics.

In this age of multitasking, voters are not as captive to a Web site as they might be to a 30-second television advertisement, or a campaign mailing. That was a critical lesson of the collapse of Mr. Dean’s presidential campaign, after he initially enjoyed great Internet success in raising money and drawing crowds.

Therefore the internet is a “double edged sword”, with speed, efficiency and success in penetrating the various target segments, a party must also be very careful and pay close attention to details it includes in the campaign, and to make sure there is no mistakes in the campaigns, because once the word is out in the public there is no turning back, and the party’s reputation will be smeared.

SOURCES

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/07/how-obamas-internet-campaign-changed-politics/

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/02/washington/02campaign.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

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