Eight Reasons the Internet has Changed Politics Forever
The Internet forever has changed national politics, and this election year has made the point crystal clear. Below are eight game changers that have made the Internet more important since the last election.
Game Changer #1:
Possibly most game changing of all has been Obama’s use of the Internet to raise money. In the 1980’s, it was Republicans who altered fundraising by successfully using computers to fine tune and manage mailing lists of donors, which was utilized to help them take over Congress for the first time in 40 years. That was no small feat. However, the Obama campaign used the Internet to help them raise over $600 million in contributions from over 3 million donors.
Barack Obama’s campaign has singlehandedly destroyed the concept of public financing of major political contests. Ironically, it was the Democrats who championed the public financing of presidential campaigns, and it is they who have killed it. The $600 million spent this election by Obama will likely be a billion dollars per candidate in four years.
Game Changer #2:
THANKS FOR MAKING OCTOBER 2008 THE BIGGEST MONTH IN DRUDGEREPORT'S 13 YEAR HISTORY! THE PAGE WAS VIEWED 798,524,935 TIMES FROM 153,563,619 VISITS FOR MONTH, NEARLY 6X SITE'S TRAFFIC IN OCTOBER '04... AND SOMEHOW IT FEELS LIKE IT'S ONLY JUST STARTING...
The Drudge report in particular can make mainstream media pay attention to a story by simply linking to it. Major news outlets don’t want to look foolish not covering a story that they know was seen on Drudge by 30 million people.
Game Changer #3:
The use of the Internet to attract and organize volunteers by the Obama campaign was arguably the number one reason Obama won the election. He came in with the experience that organizing a community around political action is very important, and in his campaign for President he used the power of the Internet to effectively rally and organize. It was a brilliant strategy that was not matched by McCain in this election.
According to Wired.com, myBarackObama.com chalked up some 1.5 million volunteer accounts. Combining this organizational ability with Internet fundraising has dramatically altered how campaigns will be waged in the future.
Game Changer #4:
Mainstream news websites such as CNN.com, MSNBC.com and FOXNews.com have overtaken their television counterparts as the place people get their news. For example, CNN.com reportedly received a huge Election Day audience of 27 million unique visitors to their site. These visitors generated over 276 million page views in one day. Simply amazing.
Game Changer #5:
Internet video clips have become mainstream, both as a way to illustrate political points and to view clips of the candidates from news and entertainment television shows. For instance, a clip of Sarah Palin’s appearance on Saturday Night Live was viewed 7,264,478 times on YouTube. A recent politically inspired clip of Barack Obamba discussing on a radio show his desire to "spread the wealth" around was viewed on YouTube 2,393,392 times. This in particular has changed political marketing forever.
Political news watched via Internet video clips clearly has become mainstream, as illustrated by the huge viewing numbers for election day on CNN.com:
- CNN.com Live: 4.9 million live streams
- additional 6.7 million on-demand video streams
News often isn’t TiVo’d, but it apparently is watched in large numbers on the news websites and YouTube.
Game Changer #6:
Partisan political blogs like PowerLineBlog.com and DailyKos.com have become even more important. Yes, political blogs made CBS and Dan Rather look silly in the last election, but with this election they have become legit voices of political opinion. The 2008 election has solidified the political blogger as an authority voice in politics. Some of them, such as John H. Hinderaker of Power Line and Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos, regularily appear on network and cable news shows.
Game Changer #7:
Niche non-partisan political sites like RealClearPolitics.com and Politico.com have become mainstream. The RealClearPolitics.com poll average map in particular has been routinely source-referenced by the major television networks and news websites. This has changed how news organization report on poll data and has made people more understanding of variations in polls. Outlying poll results are not given as much credence as in the past.
Game Changer #8:
Social media hardly existed four years ago, but during this election the candidates and their supporters used sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace aggressively. I think this is a strategy that will continue to evolve over the next four years to possibly become one of the most powerful weapons a candidate has in their quest to organize, rally, raise funds, and ultimately win the presidency.