Think we're a flash in the pan? Blogging and other new media are just continuing to grow in political influence
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Former Sen. John Edwards’s favorite books include “The Trial of Socrates,” “God’s Politics” and “Into Thin Air.” His favorite musician is Bruce Springsteen. His heroes are his wife, Elizabeth, and the American people.
How did this information about a likely 2008 presidential candidate become public? Through MySpace.com, a networking website where Edwards (D-N.C.), like former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), has set up pages to tell people about himself. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) has 6,000 friends on his page at Facebook.com. Visitors to those pages can join the candidates’ “networks” and candidates can use the sites to communicate with narrow groups of likely voters.
Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark (D) has focused his efforts on podcasting, creating an audio message that his supporters can listen to at his website or download from Apple’s iTunes. Clark has the second most listened-to podcast among likely 2008 contenders, after Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), as measured by iTunes.
Seemingly overnight, the Internet has changed politics and the course of campaigns. The 30-second television advertisement has been a staple of campaigning for decades. But last summer, Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) made YouTube a must-use campaign website. The site allows users to post and circulate video instantly, and Allen was caught on videotape calling S.R. Sidarth, a volunteer of Indian descent for Sen.-elect Jim Webb (D-Va.), “macaca,” which was said to be a racial insult.
Candidates face a serious challenge from the new ways people gather information and news. Fewer people are watching network television or reading major newspapers, turning instead to the Internet. This trend has left candidates hustling to figure out how technology can help them communicate with a fragmented audience.
Armstrong and other technology-savvy aides said candidates must integrate all of the different messaging platforms — blogging, instant messaging, text-messaging, social networking — with a campaign’s field and communications programs.
“It’s not about technology. It’s the principles behind the technology,” said Peter Daou, a consultant to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). “What campaigns miss are the principles about how this bottom-up approach works.”and...
Social networking sites carry some risks for candidates because political opponents can use material against them. Some candidates banned their 20-something-year-old aides from using MySpace or Facebook because they feared their opponents would use the content against them.
Rep.-elect Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) said some Republican activists criticized him because his 20-year-old daughter’s Facebook profile included a photo of her holding a beer