Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Politicking Online

Politicking Online: The Transformation of Election Campaign Communications

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 312
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Politicking Online
    Book Description:

    Of the many groundbreaking developments in the 2008 presidential election, the most important may well be the use of the Internet. In Politicking Online contributors explorethe impact of technology for electioneering purposes, from running campaigns andincreasing representation to ultimately strengthening democracy. The book reveals how social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are used in campaigns along withe-mail, SMS text messaging, and mobile phones to help inform, target, mobilize, and communicate with voters.

    While the Internet may have transformed the landscape of modern political campaigns throughout the world, Costas Panagopoulos reminds readers that officials and campaign workers need to adapt to changing circumstances, know the limits of their methods, and combine new technologies with more traditional techniques to achieve an overall balance.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4865-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 Technology and the Modern Political Campaign: The Digital Pulse of the 2008 Campaigns
    (pp. 1-18)

    On January 20, 2007, New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton formally announced her intention to seek the Democratic Party’s 2008 nomination for president via the Internet. The Clinton announcement, delivered in a video featured on her Web site, followed a statement a few days earlier by Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama about his plans for a presidential run and was launched on the same day that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, another hopeful for the Democratic presidential nomination, declared his intentions—all on the Internet. In the 2006 midterm elections in the United States, Republican Senator George Allen’s bid for...

  5. PART ONE Candidate Web Sites

    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 19-20)

      In recent election cycles, campaign Web sites for federal candidates in the United States have become ubiquitous. Online presence in the form of Web sites has also expanded considerably for candidates seeking statewide and municipal offices. The selections in part 1 of this volume advance a series of systematic analyses of candidate Web sites. The authors devote considerable attention to candidate Web sites, as these are the dominant form of direct, online communications from candidates to voters. Analyses of the content and features on candidate Web sites offer glimpses into candidate strategy as well as into a campaignʹs outlook about...

    • 2 The Technological Development of Candidate Web Sites: How and Why Candidates Use Web Innovations
      (pp. 21-47)

      The Internet has become a vital resource in American political campaigns. It provides candidates with unmediated and inexpensive access to voters while also offering new technological options for communication and information presentation. Candidates now have the opportunity to create Web sites with features such as multiple media, personalized information, and even two-way communication. While these innovations seem promising, the decision to use them is far from automatic. Candidates must carefully weigh practical and political considerations before incorporating new technologies into their Web sites, because each innovation has advantages and drawbacks.

      In this chapter, we investigate how and why political candidates...

    • 3 Closing Gaps, Moving Hurdles: Candidate Web Site Communication in the 2006 Campaigns for Congress
      (pp. 48-76)

      In the 2006 midterm elections, even more campaigns and interest groups had an online presence than in 2004, and their activities had matured relative to previous years (Rainie and Horrigan 2007). Moreover, citizens seeking information about U.S. Senate races increased fivefold over the 2002 midterm election level and doubled for U.S. House races. Although mainstream media continued to dominate the content that citizens viewed online, 20 percent reported going directly to a candidate’s Web site to learn about the campaign (Rainie and Horrigan 2007). Television remained the medium of choice, but the Internet’s financial role continued to enlarge. Estimates put...

    • 4 Trickle-Down Technology? The Use of Computing and Network Technology in State Legislative Campaigns
      (pp. 77-100)

      Technological advances increase the sophistication and improve the quality of numerous processes in the United States today. Businesses use technology, especially telecommunications technology, to improve the quality of their marketing efforts. Teachers use technology in the classroom to improve student learning outcomes. At the federal level at least, we know that the same is true of legislative campaigns. Technology advances the cause of federal-level campaigners, but does it have the same effect at the state level?

      Scholars have shown that there is a lag effect in adopting new campaign techniques: candidates at the state level are slower to employ new...

    • 5 Do Campaign Web Sites Really Matter in Electoral Civic Engagement? Empirical Evidence from the 2004 and 2006 Post-Election Internet Tracking Survey
      (pp. 101-124)

      Since the mid-1990s, the Internet and World Wide Web (WWW) have been changing society remarkably. Government has provided electronic information and services through portal sites. Political parties have used campaign Web sites for election campaigns. Almost all senators and representatives have their own Web sites to disseminate information and communicate with their constituents. Political use of the Internet, in particular campaign Web sites, becomes a common phenomenon. The interactive nature and massive information transfer capability of the Internet are implicitly assumed to produce a positive effect on politics and democracy. Do campaign Web sites really matters in electoral politics and...

  6. PART TWO Technology and Voter Mobilization

    • 6 Clicking for Cash: Campaigns, Donors, and the Emergence of Online Fund-Raising
      (pp. 127-140)

      In the 2000 presidential election cycle, Senator John McCain, an unsuccessful contender for the Republican nomination, demonstrated that the power of the Internet could be marshaled effectively to raise campaign funds. McCain raised $2.2 million online in just four days after winning the New Hampshire Republican primary (Malbin 2006). Overall, the McCain campaign raised a total of $6.4 million on the Internet during the 2000 cycle (Cornfield 2004), representing nearly one-quarter of the $28.1 million total the campaign raised from individual contributors over the course of the campaign.

      By 2004, the number of Americans who went online had surged past...

    • 7 The Impact of E-Mail Campaigns on Voter Mobilization: Evidence from a Field Experiment
      (pp. 141-151)

      Howard Dean’s innovative use of the Internet for political campaigning caught the nation’s attention during the beginning of the 2004 Democratic primary. According to theWashington Post, Dean raised much of his $41 million online, and 185,000 supporters signed up on (Faler 2004a). In the past, a candidate’s Web site only served as a place to download press releases and donate money. Dean built a Web site that offered a virtual community for his supporters, and many campaigns have since adopted many of its features. It took years for politicians to utilize television as a campaign tool, and candidates...

    • 8 Mobilizing the Mobiles: Text Messaging and Turnout
      (pp. 152-162)

      Political campaigns use television advertising to reach large segments of voters with their persuasion and mobilization messages. To deliver targeted messages to individual voters, however, campaigns have traditionally used U.S. mail, landline phone calls, or in-person canvassing. These forms of direct voter contact are particularly important in “get out the vote” (GOTV) efforts leading up to an election. A successful GOTV program can add up to 8 percent to a campaign’s vote total on election day (Nickerson 2007). Having accurate information about how to contact key voters is critical to these efforts. We argue in this chapter that the rise...

    • 9 Online Political Advertising
      (pp. 163-176)

      Several types of online communication have enjoyed breakout moments in U.S. political campaigning and public affairs, including e-mail (Jesse Ventura 1998), fund-raising (McCain 2000), blogging (the Trent Lott resignation 2001), the organization of in-person meetings (MeetUp/Howard Dean 2003), and Web videos (the “macaca” incident, 2006). After these successes received notice, adoption of the practices behind them spread among campaigners and activists. They became standard equipment in the online politics toolkit.

      Online advertising would seem a likely candidate for this social treatment. As Henry Copeland and Megan Mitzel of point out, the interactivity, accountability, iterability, and targeting capacities of online...

  7. PART THREE International Perspectives

    • 10 “Under Construction”: Weblog Campaigning in the German Bundestag Election 2005
      (pp. 179-199)

      Election campaigns are an extreme form of political communication. During these periods, the mass media and the electorate devote more attention to the statements of politicians and their parties than at any other time. The stakes are high, indeed; elections are at the core of the political process: the allocation of political power. Because of their importance, campaigns can act as catalysts for new forms of political communication.

      This chapter examines how campaign communication is being changed by a new technological medium: Weblogs. By offering easy-to-use content management software and an attractive presentation, Weblogs have revolutionized the way information is...

    • 11 Mobile Democracy: Text Messages, Voter Turnout, and the 2004 Spanish General Election
      (pp. 200-214)

      The purpose of this case study is to illustrate how the use of mobile phones to distribute political information, and its supposed impact on political mobilization and participation during the 2004 Spanish general election, has the potential of making this new technology a democratic force. The votes that gave the upset victory to the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol, or Spanish Socialist Labour Party) came from young voters and former absentee voters who were mobilized by the events of the preceding days. The opposition was galvanized by the belief that in an effort to hide the link to the Al...

  8. PART FOUR The Latest Developments:: Blogs and Social Networking Sites

    • 12 Bloggers at the Gates: Ned Lamont, Blogs, and the Rise of Insurgent Candidates
      (pp. 217-232)

      In January of 2005, President George W. Bush kissed Connecticut Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman on the cheek as he walked to the dais to deliver the State of the Union address. What was, in all likelihood, a gesture of friendship between two kindred spirits on the Iraq war turned into a symbol of distrust and animosity toward Lieberman for many Democrats in the Constitution State. In addition to his stance on the Iraq war some Democrats were upset with Lieberman for his vote to invoke cloture on the debate over U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito and his view on...

    • 13 Voters, MySpace, and YouTube: The Impact of Alternative Communication Channels
      (pp. 233-248)

      YouTube and MySpace, two social networking Web sites, featured prominently in the discourse of how technology affected elections in 2006. Social networking sites have rapidly transformed from a niche to a mass phenomenon. Furthermore, a substantial segment of the U.S. voting age population is using YouTube and MySpace, which make the sites relevant and important for inclusion in campaign strategies. During the 2006 election cycle, MySpace made the news after it launched a voter registration drive for that election, and YouTube was widely covered in the media after Senator George Allen was caught on tape calling a college student of...

    • 14 “Friend” the President: Facebook and the 2008 Presidential Election
      (pp. 249-271)

      Emerging technologies create new opportunities for reaching the public. Campaigns must not only create targeted messages, they also must communicate these messages through mediums that will resonate with the intended audience. Nowadays, it is not simply enough to place an ad in a newspaper or participate in a debate on network television. In recent years, use of the Internet for information gathering has become nearly as ubiquitous as watching a television show or reading a newspaper for the same purpose. Despite this widespread acceptance of the Internet as a mainstream media outlet, organizations have struggled with finding the right balance...

    • 15 The Political Impact of Facebook: Evidence from the 2006 Elections and the 2008 Nomination Contest
      (pp. 272-291)

      With the institutionalization of campaign Web sites and increasing standardization of online content and function, many campaigns are looking to distinguish themselves from each other by employing the Web in ways that promote participatory democracy and re-energize grassroots political organizing.¹ The online tool that emerged in 2006 with the potential of accomplishing these objectives was the social networking site. Although the media directed most of their attention to MySpace (Kelly 2006)² and YouTube (Fairbanks 2006; Wasserman 2006),³ it was Facebook that was most prominently used by the candidates. In 2006 Facebook created entries for all U.S. congressional and gubernatorial candidates,...

  9. 16 Conclusion
    (pp. 292-294)

    Not infrequently, politicians and political operatives rely on conventional wisdom, anecdotal impressions and nonscientific evidence to craft campaign strategy and tactics. The chapters in this volume present the most comprehensive treatment and evaluations of the ways in which modern communications technology is transforming the landscape of political campaigns. The authors deploy rich descriptions and rigorous empirical methods to offer readers reliable information about the uses of modern technology in campaigns and to explore the effects of these developments. Even as the individual selections tackle compelling aspects of this phenomenon, campaigns can extract some overall conclusions from the authors’ insights. Following...

    (pp. 295-296)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 297-302)