The Internet Helps To Shape the Election

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Well, here we are. Today is the day. Voters all over the country are making their way to the booths, each to put their own little nail in the coffin of this presidential race that has seemingly been going on for an eternity. This has been the most captivating race I have seen in my lifetime, and many say that this is one of the most important elections the U.S. has ever seen.

Who will emerge victorious? Will it be Bob Barr? Will it be John McCain? Will it be Barack Obama? Will it be Ralph Nader? How about Chuck Baldwin or Cynthia McKinney? With all due respect to the other candidates, I think it’s pretty safe to say that two of the names mentioned above will be the ones on most minds across America.

The Internet has played a very large role in this election, from campaigning and coverage, to conversation and tools for information. And let’s not leave out the comic relief. So let’s take a look at how the Internet has shaped this presidential race.


There’s no question that the Internet has provided an unparalleled medium for marketing the McCain and Obama campaigns. For one, anyone who is interested can easily go to JohnMcCain.com or BarackObama.com and see what the candidates want them to see. For those who don’t know the URLs, a simple Google search for either candidate’s name will bring you their official website at the top of the results.

John McCain Barack Obama


Even Search Engine Optimization has played a role in this race. Way back in January, Michael Jensen took a look at how the candidates were doing in terms of SEO. He looked at backlinks, Technorati links, Alexa rank, page strength, indexed pages, PPC branding, and IndexRank.

Abby Johnson touches upon SEO and Internet Marketing tactics with a woman who marketed for the Mitt Romney campaign in this video.

Press Releases

I don’t know what percentage of releases come directly from the McCain and Obama campaigns, but a search for either candidate’s name on press release distribution sites like PR Newswire or BusinessWire, will turn up a plethora of results of people telling us why each candidate is good for the job as well as why each is bad.

Online Advertising

Then of course there’s good old fashioned advertising. Display ads for both Barack Obama and John McCain are plastered all around the web. Some straight from the campaigns, some from third-parties looking to cash in on clicks from the candidates’ celebrity just as they would use Eminem or Paris Hilton.

When you’re advertising on the Internet though, you can’t leave out search engine advertising, and the McCain and Obama campaigns are well aware of this. Valleywag has an interesting look at the keywords each have purchased on Google.

Valleywag Article on Candidate Keyword Purchasing


Nothing beats some good word-of-mouth, especially if it’s coming from CEOs and other high profile executives. You’ve got Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Vint Cert ("Father of the Internet") endorsing Obama while eBay’s former President and CEO Meg Whitman as well as former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina have been known McCain supporters (depite recent stories of issues there) . Schmidt even appeared in a recent Obama infomercial that aired on national television, and Fiorina has been said to be an economic advisor to McCain.


The Internet hasn’t just provided the candidates and their campaigns a huge medium to market themselves. It has also opened up a whole world of information and discussion for voters. It has changed the way many people get their information, and perhaps most importantly, gives them a much broader range of choices to obtain that information from, than was available during presidential races of the past.

Clearly, not all of that information is reliable, accurate, or helpful, and the debate over new media as a legitimate source of information continues to go on, but there is no denying that there are more options than there have ever been, and people can use their own minds to decide where to get their info from.

News Sites

Of course there are still the good old fashioned news sources – CNN, the Times, NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, NewsWeek, etc. People have turned to the Internet versions of these entities more and more often. Some print publications are even abandoning their print businesses in favor of the web. News search and aggregation sites are also there to provide readers with results from these publications based on the topics they want to read about.


Blogs (and their RSS feeds) have provided the ability to give anyone a voice who wants one. Many readers are turning to these to get news and commentary on issues involving the candidates. Another draw to this medium is the commentary that the readers themselves can contribute via blog comments. This provides plenty of room for open debate, and this is a strategy that even many of the more traditional news sources have adopted. This also brings me to the next item.


Community has never played a bigger role in a presidential election, and that is because of the open forum for debate at every turn (we’ve certainly had our fair share in comments on WebProNews articles). The Internet has made the whole process more of an open discussion thanks to the community mentality provided by blogs and social media.

Special Election Pages

Nearly all of the most popular content and social sites on the Internet have pages dedicated to the continuing coverage of the election.


I’m sure there are many others.

Online Video

Not only do people have more content to read than ever before courtesy of the above media, but they also have more to watch. This becomes truer everyday, because online video has really only recently started coming into its own. Many are watching less television and more online video.

They’re going to YouTube where they can find videos pieced together to smear Obama, or others to do the same to McCain. They’re going to Hulu to watch debates and rallies, and of course parodies from SNL, and political-based comedy shows like The Daily Show. They’re going to news sites to watch more traditional coverage. They’re going to combinations of these places for combinations of content and lots of other places too, and more often than not, these videos can be embedded into any site or social media profile and linked to and shared, making them available so many places.

Politics on Hulu

A number of "A-List" celebrities have even gotten together to release a couple of public service announcement videos encouraging people to go out and vote. Controversial political filmmaker Michael Moore even released his latest offering on the Internet for free.


Some companies have released election-based tools to help keep people informed about a variety of aspects related to the election. For example, AOL offers a toolbar for IE and Firefox that provides recent news headlines and allows for customization and the addition of widgets, feeds, and buttons.

AOL Election Toolbar

Google offers a site based on Google Maps that allows users to search for their home address at which point they are provided with information about how they can vote, including (perhaps most importantly) where they are supposed to vote. There’s no telling how many people this tool alone has inspired to go out and cast their ballots. Google also has a gadget based on this tool, and another similar mobile tool meant for volunteers to help recruit voters and show them where to vote.

Google in fact has been all over this presidential race. Apart from the above tools and Obama endorsements. They have been involved in a project to help kids ask the candidates questions, provided other election-related gadgets, and created a Google News feature (in Google Labs) that allows users to search for subjects and retrieve quotes from the candidates regarding them.

I would imagine there are many other tools out there that people have been using to obtain voting/election-related information. These are just a few that come immediately to mind.


Now here we are. Getting ready to step into the voting booths. Let’s reflect on this past year of presidential campaigning. How much have we used the Internet to shape our opinions and our decisions? When you’re in the booth, will you reflect upon all of the commentary you have read? All of the discussion you’ve participated in? All of the video footage you’ve seen? All of the ads?

Probably not. I’m guessing you already know who you’re voting for. But if you’re reading this, I bet the Internet played some kind of a role in how you reached that decision. We’ll see where the chips fall tonight.

The Internet Helps To Shape the Election
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  • http://www.morgankeeganfundloss.com/morgan_keegan_lawsuit.html morgan keegan lawsuit

     This is one of the best articles I’ve seen regarding the candidates online efforts. Good job covering all the online venues utilized, good links too.

    • Chris Crum

      Thanks for the kind words!

  • http://www.befluid.com Joe Magennis

    Nice Job Chris! Just finished doing a podcast about this topic as well.  The one element that you didn’t touch upon that was a big thing for me was the development of the Obama Iphone app. 

    I hope that any new administration takes to using these tools beyond getting elected and helps to make our government more transparent.


    • Chris Crum

      Thanks Joe. I’m sure there are plenty more useful apps and sites that I didn’t mention, but thanks for mentioning the iPhone app. It’s another example of how technology is truly changing the way people are getting involved.

  • Monia Swaans

    Yes indeed!  It’s time for healing the world and it starts today!  Just fasten your seatbelts everybody and be ready to enjoy this new wave of unfathomable miracles…Beautiful miracles!

    This is not just about the United States of America, but about the world in its entirety.  Because America, being the world leader, will lead the world through and to healing in the future, just like it lead the world to the financial crisis, the ugly war, rise in energy prices, hunger in some countries where people line up to get few spoons of rice…

    Just like George W. Bush spread "cancer" through his policy, tomorrow when the sun rises it’s the beginning of a new beautiful era for the US and the rest of the world!

    This election is the first event which will trigger an amazing chain of events with twists and turns that no human mind could have conceived…and it will all lead to the most beautiful and amazing outcome for all of those who are passionate about GOODNESS, LOVE, PEACE and HEALING!

    Stay Passionate and be a Believer and MARK MY WORD!

    Monia Swaans

  • http://www.PoetPatriot.com Roger W Hancock the PoetPatriot

    Well, we know it won’t be Bob Barr, Nader or Baldwin… or … who is Cynthia McKinney?   Those votes do not help select the president.  or… do they? At least they are not votes for Obama. Others would say McCain.

    I vote independent, selecting candidates that first, mostly align with my values and then among those that have a chance of winning. Third criteria be that the actions of that candidate in office would not be in opposition to my other selections.
    So far the candidates that have fit my criteria have always been Republican. Not this election, but It is possible that a race may not have a Republican candidate or the candidate may not be a conservative Republican, leaving a conservative Democrat may to fit the criteria, except that his actions in office most likely would be pit against my other selections. So essentially to advance my personal agenda, I vote Republican.
    The internet allows me to state my opinions or facts dug up at various blogs, posting boards, or even my direct email.  It inflames some and elates others.  I have found opposition to my opinions has been met with closed mindedness and accusations. Many on the internet do not have the toleration to accept all the internet has to offer. If I were to allow myself to get upset at all I come across on the web and comes to me in email I would be a total wreak.  The internet brings like-minded and opposing views in at a far greater pace than any other form of media.  We must learn to cope, and then vote our values.

  • http://familylawlawyersflorida.com/ Marc

    I hear that McCain does not even use a computer?  Is that even possible these days?  How is he going to adapt or keep pace with the technology that is driving our economy? 

    • http://www.besttoyguide.com/ Lucy Andrez

      Is that true…? Then how he get the latest information and daily news? Internet is the best information source…I really hope that’s just an issue.

  • http://webintelhome.com Guest

    Every politician is hoping that this issue will be forgotten in the romance of newly elected representatives.

    IMPEACHMENT!  There are no statute of limitations on impeachment!

    IF ever a president, and vice president (no capitals on purpose) needed, and deserved impeaching, the sitting elected officials deserve it the most.

    Even after they have been voted out, and removed from office by the next elected batch, they can be impeached for their crimes.

    What will that solve you ask?

    For starters, it will send a message to every aspiring politician that "the people" will not tolerate criminal behaviour in office..

    That crimes will not go unpunished…

    That we will not provide a golden parachute retirement to criminals.

    That we will not provide unlimited medical, and dental treatment for criminals.

    That we will not provide around the clock protection for the families of criminals.

    And most important: we will not tolerate having anyone trash our Constitution…

    In the last eight years, we have had more Congressmen, and Senators convicted for criminal behaviour than under any other administration in four decades.  All because those same convicted Congressmen, and Senators saw the president, and vice president committing major crimes, and going unpunished, and believed they too could get away with their crimes.

    Who really is the Government in this country?  The hired (by election) politicians, or the people who hired (elected) them?  That is the real issue here, and one that had better be decided now!

    If this election (hiring process) goes as expected, we will have a whole new batch of office holders that will either follow the direction of those that hired them; or will if not directed play by their own rules.

    We’d better decide today if we are sheep, or sheep herders!

    DON’T ALLOW THE GUILTY TO ESCAPE, IMPEACH THEM!  Then put them on trial for their crimes against us.   

  • Faye Shamblin

    I think we are in for a very bad time if Obama is elected due to his lies and doing and saying things that does not represent the America I have always known.  Not saluteing the flag and not using the Bible.  He can only be working for the devil not the people of the USA.  How will it effect our military, in my thoughts I am glad I am no longer with the military but I feel our men and women that are in war zones or peaceful areas need more respect that Obama.  I can not respect him and I feel more of the people that supported him need their heads examined I am ashamed of them too.  I hate to see what security we will have due to he is dangerouly letting aliens have social security which does not belong to him or them also being our Social Security is in a bind now.  Having the freedom of drivers licenses and social security cards.  HE IS CRAZY AND DANGERIOUS.  we don’t need that kind of person as commander in chief.   You can show this to the public I think they need help if they voted for Obama……

    • heui

      I totally agree with you…  I’m afraid that our economy will get worst with him.  The effects are not instant but in 2 years time we will feel the difficulties.

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