Politicians go high-tech to reach voters

The world is becoming more technological and politicians are trying hard to catch up.

Two of these politicians are Barack Obama, who has 179,379 friends on MySpace and John McCain, whose TV ad has had over 2,000 YouTube views since it was added onto the site Thursday afternoon.

Even though Election Day is still over a year away, it is clear that the Internet will play a more dominate role in political campaigns than in any previous election. This year MySpace launched “MySpace impact,” which focuses on political issues and features MySpace pages for the 2008 political candidates. This July, CNN held the first ever “YouTube debate” where YouTube subscribers submitted their questions to be answered by the democratic presidential candidates.

Mark Ingles, president of the College Democrats, said this new emergence is an effective way to reach a larger audience of young people.

“It is the most effective way they have come up with to reach students,” Ingles said. “Especially since college students move so fast and this is a good way to get some real grassroots support started.”

The Internet is also making an impact for local politicians. Robin Weirauch, the democratic candidate running for U.S. Congress in Ohio’s 5th District made her candidacy official by means of a YouTube video.

Ben Krompak, Weirauch’s campaign manager, said access to the Internet has been very helpful in this campaign.

“It is a resource that is convenient and accessible to a lot more people and the message can be put out there much more quickly than it would with a traditional announcement,” Krompak said.

Even though the Internet is so easily accessible, students do need to do their own part and actively look for information, Ingles said.

“People have to go to the medium, the medium does not just come to them,” he said.

Junior Kevin Wireman said the Internet is just a new way to market politics but the messages are still the same. He admits he does not often go searching for politicians when he is on the web.

“I’m not sure how effective [online campaigning] is because I don’t pay any more attention than I would to an ad on TV,” Wireman said.

People need to pay attention when researching candidates online because some issues can be marginalized in this medium, Ingles said.

“You can’t really explain your entire issue on a YouTube video” Ingles said. “The big idea may be addressed but the nuances of an issue can be lost in a 30 second video.”

Krompack said online resources are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to politics.

“The Internet gives young voters and students a chance to understand a little more about the campaign and then right there on the same page they can learn how they can become involved and maybe volunteer some time,” Krompack said.