Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Internet and the presidential election

We eventually learn to use new media, but at first we mimic old media. For example, this 1952 presidential ad for Eisenhower is like a radio jingle with crude animation:



It seems goofy today, but was made by intelligent, creative people at the time.

Many people feel that John Kennedy was the first presidential candidate to effectively use television. Checking his commercials from the 1960 campaign, we see sincere statements by the candidate, attack ads and celebrity endorsement ads as well as Eisenhower-era jingles. Kennedy also had the ability to speak directly to the voter as shown in this clip:



Earlier, Franklin Roosevelt broke new ground by communicating directly with the people in weekly fireside chats on the radio.

The Internet is today's new media. Howard Dean and John McCain pioneered in using the Net for fund raising during the 2000 and 2004 elections, and both of the current candidates are using it for position papers, fund raising, community formation, video, instant messaging, Twitter streams, email, etc. this year.

In this interview, Phil Noble of the consulting firm Politics Online says Obama may be to the Internet what John Kennedy was to television and the New York Times published this excellent article on the importance of the Internet in the campaign on the day before the election.

For more examples of presidents using radio and television, see the archives of presidential speeches at the University of Virginia and presidential campaign commercials at Living Room Candidate.

Have you registered with either (or both) the presidential campaign sites? Have you contributed to a candidate on the Internet? Have you created blogs on either campaign site? Do you see differences in the way Obama and McCain are using the Internet?