Generally speaking, liberals are forward thinking and constantly seeking change. Conservatives tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to new technology. In my experience, liberal thinkers are often on the Apple line when the new iPhone comes out, whereas people who are more conservative may still be holding on to their BlackBerrys. This technological thinking now moves over to how the web influences politics. According to Matthew Hindman’s The Real Lessons of Howard Dean:Reﬂections on the First Digital Campaign, liberals are more inclined to use the Internet as a way to find out/contribute to a political campaign. The article raises an interesting question: “Should we expect this liberalconservative gap to be temporary or an enduring feature of the online political landscape?”
As the Internet grows even more influential, it will become even more of a norm to find news and information from the Internet than it already is. For us, the students and University faculty reading this post, it is inevitable that we receive a large chunk of our information on the web — no matter what our political party affliliation is. We are a younger generation who grew up with the Internet. However, ask 78 year old Jenny Mae down in Tumbleweed, Alabama if she’s ever clicked a computer mouse, let alone surf the web, chances are — she hasn’t. It is safe to assume that an older, technology-lacked, middle-American woman would be pinned as a conservative. Therefore, that’s one less conservative surfing the web, looking for information on the candidates. She probably already knows who she is voting for.
Saturday Night Live did a small bit in this week’s “Weekend Update” on campaign Do’s and Don’ts for the candidates. In the bit, Seth Meyers, the comedic news caster reported that Romney was up a large amount in a poll that is taken by people who still use land line phones. Those who primarily use landline phones as opposed to cell phones are generally older, and therefore, probably more conservative. It shows that those who do not embrace technology as quickly as others tend to affiliate themselves with a more conservative political viewpoint.
As the Internet generation expands and drives out the older generation, it can be said that this liberalconservative gap online will start to close. As the Internet gains more popularity and everyday usage, liberals, conservatives, middle-grounders alike will be searching for content about candidates on the Internet. The Dean campaign, though unsuccessful, had the right idea — and soon all candidates will follow his digital footsteps. The question is, how will it expand even further?