Ben Halperin Week 10

Herrnson, et al’s piece discusses the online use in state legislative elections. Although the study solely examined how state legislative candidates utilize the Interne, many of what was found can also be true for other elections. Written in 2007, this study does not include information about the more recent election cycles of 2008, 2010, and 2012, where the Internet was involved much more intricately and effectively. In the time studied, the Internet use for campaigning consisted mostly of emailing constituents and brochure-style websites. Certain findings can fit very well with the use of the Internet for larger-scale elections. For example, candidates that are new to politics are more likely to start websites than those who have been in politics for over 17 years (Herrnson). The reasoning explained was that political veterans are likely to not want to change how their campaigns work because they are set in their ways on how to run an election. Candidates in districts with a higher amount of older constituents are also less likely to use the Internet. The most telling statistic, in my mind, was that “Challengers and open-seat contestants are 6.8 and 11.5 points more likely to have a Web site than incumbents” (Herrnson). This idea reflects the fervor and increased publicity of the Democratic candidates in the 2004 and 2008 elections, as well as the Republicans for the 2012 election. The use of the Internet, even during an election cycle, is not limited to mobilizing support and donations.

Steinhauer’s recent New York Times article regarding the Twitter use of Republicans reveals how the Internet is prevalent for discussions guided by the politicians themselves. She describes how Majority Leader Cantor has someone in charge of his Twitter account to shoot back responses to political activities, such as President Obama’s jobs bill. Cantor’s employee would describe Cantor’s disagreement, linking to a further explanation on Cantor’s blog. Such tactics demonstrate how the Internet can be used to gain publicity and demonstrate views on contemporary issues almost simultaneously. Even though Cantor is not running for president, it still demonstrates how such tactics can be used during elections. For example, there has a lot of discussion about the Republican candidates’ use of the Internet in the 2012 presidential election, just as Herrnson predicted. The candidates have the opportunity to similarly use Twitter to respond to their opponent’s views, and can even then link to their websites. Such tactics by Cantor demonstrate how politicians can push their personal and political aspirations to their followers quickly and efficiently. While it is not directly for election purposes, these tactics are attempting to chisel away at the incumbent. Such tactics demonstrate that politicians can effectively use the Internet for other reasons than to gain support in election time. In fact, they can be combined. Where do you think political use of the Internet is more important? Where do you think the political use of the Internet is going? Do you see politicians continuing to use the Internet to directly call out their political opponents?

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