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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Campaign Trails Click with Online Technology

The transformation of American politics by the Internet is accelerating with the approach of the 2006 congressional and 2008 White House elections.

Changes are evident in the way campaigns approach advertising, fundraising, mobilizing supporters, and even the spreading of negative information.

Democrats and Republicans are increasing their use of e-mail, interactive Web sites, candidate and party blogs, and text messaging to raise money, organize get-out-the-vote efforts and assemble crowds. The Internet, they said, appears to be more efficient, and less costly, than the traditional tools of politics, notably door knocking and telephone banks.

Analysts say the campaign television advertisement, already diminishing in influence with the proliferation of cable stations, faces new challenges as campaigns experiment with technology that allows direct messaging to more specific audiences and through unconventional means.

Those include podcasts featuring a daily downloaded message from a candidate, and so-called viral attack videos designed to trigger peer-to-peer distribution by e-mail chains without being associated with any candidate or campaign. Campaigns are studying popular Internet social networks as ways to reaching groups of potential supporters with similar political views or cultural interests.

The Internet is now available to 70 percent of Americans. That means, aides said, rethinking every assumption about running a campaign: how to reach different segments of voters, how to get voters to the polls, how to raise money, and the best way to have a candidate interact with the public. Source
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