Historical Question

Historical Question: How have presidential campaigns used the internet to connect with voters?

Over a decade ago, the Internet was considered “new” media and many political candidates steered away from the platform as its nuance. This was the same for political campaigns, who connected with voters not through tweets, or Facebook statuses, but emails, blogs and website.

Since then, the internet has grown to not only benefit a campaign’s revenue, as the web provides more means for voters to donate to political parties, but for voters to better understand the person behind the presidential candidate.

As technology and time progresses, campaigns are getting smarter about how they use the web to connect with people. Their sites, no longer just blogs and donate ads, have photos, personal stories, and Youtube videos that aim to sell voters not on a politician, but a person. Twitter is used a means to talk and debate with voters in real-time, and Facebook as a means to communicate on a much larger platform.

As technology has progressed, so has politics. The internet has allowed for Presidential candidates arms to extend closer, and closer to voters. In 2004, it was through email, in 2008 it was through Facebook and YouTube, and in 2012 it was by tweets.

Our group’s aim is that our findings showed you how proficient the presidential candidates and their campaign teams have become at connecting with voters using internet and various online tools.

In 2008, campaign strategy has been transformed by Barack Obama. He was the first to truly intergrade the social media into a way of reaching out to voters. He mainly used Facebook and Youtube which were already used by millions of people around the world, and he was able to figure out how to use this connectivity to his advantage.

In 2012, Barack Obama digitized his campaign almost entirely. His team took advantage of the fact that liberals are more active on the internet than conservatives. New software like Dashboard gave Obama the edge as well, while Romney resorted to the traditional phone banks. We saw the evidence of Obama going after progressive social media users, and we saw the evidence of that paying off.

Our work is not finished but, based on our findings so far, we predict that the next election will be won by the most skilled campaign team and a candidate progressive enough to hire one.