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Roundup of the US Presidential campaign online

11 November, 2008
By Allison Orr

The Obama campaign used the Internet extensively in their race for the presidency and it could be considered a significant factor in Obama’s historic win.  Throughout the campaign, Spartan Consulting produced a graph of Internet political performance.  You can see that throughout the primaries and into the main campaign, Barack Obama was ahead of all other candidates in use of the Internet.  In the main part of the candidate, Obama shot ahead in use of the Internet.

From the very beginning the Obama campaign used the Internet extensively to reach out to voters and to raise funds.  The Internet was used in every facet of the campaign and in all areas Obama outdid both Clinton in the Primaries and McCain in the election race.  Over the campaign, more than 100,000 videos of Obama were uploaded by the campaign and by amateurs and these were viewed 889 million times.  By contrast, just on 64,000 videos were uploaded of McCain.

In the blogosphere, major differences in the strategies of both campaigns can be noted.  According to an article in the Columbia Journalism Review by Renee Feltz, the Obama campaign reached out to activist bloggers to communicate with and mobilise campaign volunteers, whereas the McCain campaign took a top-down approach, “using blogs as an echo chamber for channeling mostly anti-Obama attacks into the mainstream media”.

The role of the Internet as an information source for political and campaign news increased during the campaign, according to research undertaken by the PEW Internet and American Life Project.  In March of this year nearly a quarter of all Americans (24%) said they regularly learnt news about the campaign from the Internet, but by October the number was a third (33%).  This represents a tripling of the figure since October 2004.  Needless to say, this statistic is most prominent among younger people.  Television remains the dominant medium, but the Internet now rivals newspapers as a main source for campaign news. 

Even now, Obama has indicated he will use the Internet for the transition process, so it seems likely his will be a tech-savvy administration.  His campaign has set up a website, which has a weekly address from the president-elect, a transition directory that introduces new appointees and the transition team, and outlines agenda issues of the new administration.

The Republicans are also starting the see the writing on the wall on Internet campaigning, and a group of Republicans have set up which outlines principles for taking the party into the future.  The first of the principles is recruit 5 million Republican online activists, as “We can\'t keep fighting a 21st century war with 20th century weapons.

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