Monday, January 07, 2008

Eight Ways the Internet Has Changed the Electoral Process

Some interesting observations on how the internet has changed political campaigns were presented recently by a panel at the Newhouse School of Communications Breakfast Series, “The Impact of the Internet on the Presidential Race.” Makovsky is a sponsor of the Newhouse program.

The panel included: Peter Dow, Hillary Clinton’s campaign internet advisor; Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief, The Huffington Post; and Mark McKinnon, vice chairman, Public Strategies, and president, Maverick Media, media advisor to John McCain.

Without attribution, here are some of the panelists’ most interesting comments:

1. The biggest thing the internet has done is end the news cycle. Candidates now must be prepared to update their sites at least every hour.

2. The internet has changed fundraising by opening the door to small donors.

3. It has had a major impact on bringing out volunteers.

4. Despite the perception that the majority of bloggers are 18+ years old, the vast majority of political bloggers are 40+ years old, white, affluent males.

5. Notwithstanding, the Internet has this amazing silo feature: it can go deeper into any sector or minority than ever before.

6. The election is in the U.S., but the internet is global. Do we see more outside forces from other parts of the world attempting to influence the election than pre-internet? There is definitely more interest.

7. Will transparency brought about by the internet lead to the death of democracy because it overexposes candidates’ warts (causing the public to reject them all)? Actually, people have emerged in the “Age of Transparency” who want to elect people with flaws; scripted spots are out, and unscripted spots and unguarded moments that can be used are more credible.

8. The candidate who can take full advantage of the internet has not yet arrived … largely because none has grown up in the Internet Age. In the future, it’s likely that candidates will find even more novel ways of exploiting its potential.

Technorati Tags: Newhouse School of Communications, Breakfast Series, The Internet and the Presidential Race, Makovsky, Peter Dow, Arianna Huffington, Mark McKinnon, US Election, business, communications, public relations


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