We will fight them on the...internet?
The 2004 Howard Dean campaign showed that the internet can change the fortunes of a Presidential candidate, literally. But it highlighted that successful campaigns aren’t just about filling the fighting coffers. And while online techniques have since become ubiquitous, the winning formula for a successful campaign is something of a holy grail.
Campaign websites don’t just raise money; they generate attention. The interplay between online and offline media during the 2008 US Presidential election sees clips of televised debates
being showcased alongside campaign videos. Meanwhile, the broadcast and print media highlight online campaigns – at times even showcasing grass-roots activity.
Candidates have much to gain (and a lot to lose) from the growth of online campaigns. Offering a range of possibilities for bottom-up engagement, they also promise some kind of democratic renewal. Certainly, the US Primaries have seen a record turn-out
– similarly in the French Presidential election
. But how much is this to do with internet-led campaigns rather than the candidates focusing on issues about which an electorate may care?
It will be interesting to see how online campaigning takes shape in the UK in the next few years. With the main candidates in the forthcoming London Mayoral elections initiating online debates
and writing their own blog
, there can be no doubt that the internet is featuring in the campaigns of both. But will the Candidates’ use of new technologies win the election, or are they generating more noise than engagement?
And what happens when MPs (who are often more reticent about developing an online presence) begin to campaign for their constituency seats in by-elections and the next General Election? Rest assured, the eDemocracy team will be finding out!
L (dot) Miller (at) Hansard (dot) lse (dot) ac (dot) uk