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Web – a major political player

October 22, 2006

According to a recent survey, likely voters ranked the Internet as the best place to find election information, beating out television, newspapers, radio, and direct mail. This study demonstrates how critical an effective online strategy is to any political or advocacy campaign.

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We are in the midst of revolution in politics that will be critical to master. Political campaigns that master the newest mediums tend to be victors at elections time. A good example of this is FDR and the radio or JFK and television.

The growing impact of the Internet on politics is further proved by a survey from Pew Internet and American Life Project. It found that 26 million Americans are logging onto the web to gather political information about candidates and issues on a daily basis. This is a huge jump in participation from the last midterm election (11 million users) and a sizeable increase from the 2004 Presidential election (21 million).

The emergence of the web as a major medium is occurring at the same time that voter interest in politics is increasing. An Associated Press poll found that voter interest is at the highest level in more than a decade.

The study hypothesized that this growing interest is caused by voter frustration with the status quo in Washington DC. That may be part of the reason, but I believe that the rise in the use of the Internet is also helping to fuel voter engagement. The web allows voters to actually participate in the process and have their voice heard before Election Day.

Before, the candidates just spoke to the voters and it was a one-way interaction. Now voters have more opportunities to engage in a dialogue and ask questions, thus increasing voter engagement. Voters’ concerns with Washington are helping, but this new medium is very quickly impacting how political campaigns are run on a fundamental level. Candidates that monitor and engage in these discussions will have a stronger insight into what the electorate is concerned about. The same can be said about any institution, organization or corporation.

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