In 1995, candidate Lamar Alexander announced he was entering the presidential race not at a rally or a press conference, but on the Internet. This action is credited as the beginning of a whole new world of political campaigning. The Jesse Ventura Minnesota gubernatorial campaign of 1998 conquered that world, because Ventura could not have been elected Governor without the Internet.
Politics & the Internet in 2004:
In the 2004 election cycle, websites, email and online fundraising assumed a growing prominence. In each of these areas, new high marks were established in both volume and audience-reach.
Ten years ago, there was a legitimate question of whether the Internet had a role to play in political campaigns. That question has been decided. The Internet is here. Nearly 80% of Americans use email. Over half of US homes have broadband connections and wireless access is common and growing. As for political campaigns, the Internet has been accepted. Asking if a campaign uses email is now nearly as absurd as asking if they use the telephone. The question is not if they’re using the Internet, but what elements are they using, how much do they use it, and what’s working for them?
Presidential candidates, most notably the Dean campaign in 2004 and McCain campaign in 2000, tend to dominate discussions of online campaigning. While Presidential campaigns are often using some of the most exciting technology, these discussions miss the vast majority of online campaigns – those on the Congressional, state and local levels.