Week 10

The readings from this week reinforce the idea and act of politicians using social media to attract voters and get supporters involved and for them to become aware. Jennifer Steinhauer’s piece “Republicans Embrace Twitter Hard for ‘12” discusses how the Republicans have been utilizing Twitter during this campaign race. Herrnson discusses online campaigning while analyzing several influential variables of a candidate’s use of the Internet. Only 2 years ago, we were relying on television and newspapers to deliver the important messages, but today the campaign teams need to either utilize and rely on the Internet or have a toll taken on their campaigns.

Steinhauer talks about how barely a minute passes after Obama has made a speech, and Republican House staffers are already tweeting away. These Republicans have taken to Twitter to spread their opposing messages. Unlike 2 years ago, when the public relied on television and e-mails, which took a day or two to become popular, these instant updates are heavily benefiting the Republican Party. Both the Democrats and Republican candidates have utilized social networking sites to raise money, get volunteers and publicize their events. The difference between parties comes with their goal: The Republicans are competing for the attention of the Beltway reporters while the Democrats are competing for the attention of the American people. Two distinctive goals are facilitated with the use of Twitter as it is a way to get the message out to mass groups of people.

The Herrnson looked at how state legislators use the Internet during elections. The analysis showed that voter demographics, candidate characteristics, and strategic and structural variables influence candidates’ propensities to sponsor a Web site, communicate with supporters, reach out to undecided voters, recruit volunteers, and raise money online. The article discussed how candidates used mass e-mails and brochure-style web pages. It was interesting to see the statistic that few candidates use the Internet to contact undecided voters. We have seen this fact in a couple other readings where the candidates utilize the social media to reinforce their voter’s decisions and how the readers and people looking at their sites will have to actively be seeking them.

The Steinhauer piece is written for the upcoming election and the Hernson was written in 2007 and things have clearly changed drastically since then. My question for the class then is, how do you see things changing for the next election?

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