Politics 2000: the Internet could woo younger voters

WASHINGTON, DC: The 2000 election represents a divide between television and the Internet as the dominant medium in American politics.

WASHINGTON, DC: The 2000 election represents a divide between television and the Internet as the dominant medium in American politics.

WASHINGTON, DC: The 2000 election represents a divide between

television and the Internet as the dominant medium in American

politics.



That was the opinion delivered at a recent PoliticsOnline conference

hosted by George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political

Management.



Internet consultant Phil Noble said that politicians who have yet to

ramp up their Web efforts will miss the boat from a PR perspective

unless they get Internet-savvy in a hurry. He compared the current

climate for online political efforts to the climate for TV in 1960, when

the televised presidential debates between candidates John F. Kennedy

and Richard Nixon heralded the rise of the telegenic politician.



Noble noted that the use of the Internet as a political tool is already

drawing heavy coverage from the news media - a full year before the

general election. Such exposure, he claimed, virtually equals the

coverage devoted to Web efforts in all recent elections combined.



While younger voters are often portrayed as indifferent to the political

process, their extensive use of the Internet suggests that they will be

a stronger force, especially if net-savvy politicians find a way to

break through their apathy. Noble illustrated this by referring to

former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, who used to say that ’all

politics is local.’ By comparison, the Internet’s rise to dominance as a

communications medium will mean all politics is not only global, but

also personal.



That changing dynamic, according to Ken Deutsch of Issue Dynamics, has

thrived because the techniques developed for one-on-one e-commerce

marketing are also being used for grassroots political organization.



Until now, an organization or campaign had difficulty customizing

appeals to its supporters. Now, activist groups can use database

technology to segment supporters more effectively.



However, e-mail has not proven an effective device in allowing activists

to register their sentiments. Legislative staffs, Deutsch noted, are

often overburdened and have difficulty registering e-mail before key

votes are taken.



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