Posted by: paulfbove | April 23, 2008

The First Campaign–Using the Web to Race (to the White House)

Our Social Media class is in an interesting timeframe right now considering 1) the professor wrote a book about the Web as it relates to the race for the White House, and 2) that race is currently being run. So what does it mean? The notion that campaigns are reliant on the Web is lost on people like my parents who still don’t have a computer (believe it or not). But here’s another realization: campaigns now need the Web to reach their audience, but there are still millions of Americans who have no connection to the Internet. According to InternetWorldStats, 69.7% of Americans (approx. 211 million people) use the Internet, with 19.3% of those being broadband users. Now, that’s a lot of people with Internet access, but the percentage that use broadband is pretty low, considering that much of Web 2.0 and rich media requires broadband. And then there are the people who have no access at all.

So what to make of it. Well, I believe that the candidates are really using the Web to their advantage and running the first campaigns of the new era, as discussed in the book. But as powerful as a Web presence is, there will always be the need to press the flesh and run a traditional campaign. The privileged class (in this case I mean anyone who has Internet access) is able to see and hear all the latest and greatest regarding the campaigns and they are able to be participants. They can blog, create and/or watch videos, participate in MeetUps, and make online donations. The rest of the people then must still pack the auditoriums or town hall meetings, make a donation via face to face stumping opportunities, or worst of all, remain oblivious to what is happening. And that is a scary realization because obliviousness leads to complacency and nonvoting.

What it boils down to is that racing to the White House via the Web is important. There is no doubt to that fact. But, and so far it hasn’t happened, the candidates cannot abandon the non-Internet, non-tech constituents and voters. The next election is in 2012. The Web will have boomed even more by then (think Web 3.0 and IPv6), but there will still be millions of Americans without the means, or perhaps the desire, to be connected. And that is why I think that for all the technology that exists, traditional campaigning will always still be of great importance and relevance. We’re just going to see a lot more online tactics in the future. Perhaps a candidate can try to help the unconnected masses get to a point where they too can get online. Hey, we can dream, right? 


  1. Hey Paul – keep blogging! Some of us are going to keep it up – stay connected.

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