Election 2008

L.M. Otero/AP

Online Battle Shapes Election ’08

July 08, 2008 06:00 AM
by Isabel Cowles
As Obama makes many “friends” on the Web, McCain changes online tactics to target bloggers and new media.

30-Second Summary

In 2004, Howard Dean successfully used the Web to boost his campaign: by appealing to bloggers and activists on Meetup.org, Dean’s message spread and he rose from relative political obscurity into one of the strongest Democratic candidates of 2004.

Since then, the Internet has become an increasingly important aspect of campaign strategy. According to Andrew Rasiej, a political analyst with TechPresident.com, “In 2004, the Internet was allowed into the conference room but sat in the back. In 2006 it was actually seated at the table. But in 2008, it’s at the front of the table holding the agenda.”

Senator Obama explained, “One of my fundamental beliefs from my days as a community organizer is that real change comes from the bottom up. And there’s no more powerful tool for grass-roots organizing than the Internet.”

Senator Obama’s emphasis on bottom-up Web campaigning has helped him achieve record fundraising and wide popular support. The Obama campaign “is a collaborative effort that begins online,” says Jon Henke, an Internet strategist. “It’s the second stage of the Dean campaign.”

To keep up with Obama’s online success, Senator McCain has begun focusing on direct communication with the media via the Web. He plans to address bloggers and other members of the ‘new media’ as a means of spreading his message virally. “McCain is hiring Web consultants, meeting with bloggers twice a week, spending only a fraction of his rival’s budget on Internet ads, and sending his supporters to Web sites to spread his message themselves,” The Dallas Morning News reports.

Headline Links: Virtual campaigning

Opinion and Analysis: Obama’s online lead

Historical Context: Howard Dean’s online campaign

Reference: Obama and McCain’s virtual battle


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