Candidates Need To Play Online Politics

    April 13, 2007

What’s the best way to learn more about where a presidential candidate stands on an issue? Voters who are likely to participate in the 2008 election say the Internet, according to a study by Burst Media.

Because the Internet is viewed as a better place to find information on candidates, televised debates could have less impact in the minds of voters.

eMarketer Senior Analyst Ben Macklin says the Internet is a major benefit to office seekers.

"The direct response to political issues that the Internet can provide harks back to the very origins of democracy in ancient Greece, where the citizens of the day were not only empowered but obliged to participate in the decisions of the city-state," says Mr. Macklin.

"Perhaps the Internet can likewise empower the citizenship to participate in decisions that affect them and to give people a real sense that they are being represented."

Just over half (50.7%) of voters in the Burst study said they would watch a video online at a presidential candidate’s Web site. Men (50.1%) were more likely than women (43.9%) to watch a candidate’s video online.

In a separate study by MSHC Partners conducted by Beneson Strategy Group found that digital video recorders (DVRs) are being used skip political messages. The report notes as DVR ownership rises, the percentage of political ads that will be ignored will increase.

Hal Malchow of MSHC Partners says the consequences for televised political ads are multiple.

"As DVR ownership grows, TV will become less efficient," said Mr. Malchow. "Cable television, with its hundreds of channels, has made it increasingly difficult to reach the entire electorate, compared to the days of dominance by three major networks. Between DVRs and cable television, political ads are losing their punch."