It is known that today new information technologies are widely used to shape systems of political communication. In accordance with Philip N. Howard (2005), “political culture is defined by the material aspects of information technologies which provide very concrete schema”¯ used to pattern public ideologies and values, public policy opinions and voting behavior (p. 33). It means that the media can affect public opinion, and new technologies may change political communication. It is found that during the recent presidential campaigns, hypermedia technologies were deeply integrated in almost all campaign organizations and advertising strategies”¯ (Howard, 2005, p. 34). The majority of the managers of political information technologies used the appropriate methods to improve the efficiency of campaign including internal communication with pollsters, advance teams and speech writers to external communication with journalists and the public, and the regulatory organizations ”“ FCC (or the Federal Communications Commission) and FEC (or the Federal Election Commission). The Internet can be viewed as an effective tool in today’s political campaigns and elections because a large number of people go online for political news and cannot imagine their life without this medium (Postman, 2006; Wattal, Schuff, & Mandviwalla, 2010). Ā The major goal of this paper is to discuss the impact of the internet on political campaigns and elections, paying special attention to the impact of the Internet on selling the politician’s image, the impact of the Internet on voters, and the advantages of the Internet over the other types of the media.
THE IMPACT OF THE INTERNET ON SELLING THE POLITICIAN’ S IMAGE
Today the Internet has a great impact on creating and selling the politician’s image. Ā According to Philippe J. Maarek, “the politician’s image is a key factor in the electoral process”¯(p. 39). However, image building is a slow, complex and subjective process. Ā Politics is widely discusses on the Web. It means that “the Web and other Internet resources are the tools that may be used to better connect the voter, the politician, and the issues”¯ (Berghel, 2010, p. 19). The politician’s image plays a significant role in any political campaign. The major goal of the mass media is to effectively sell the image of the politician. In order to build the appropriate image, politicians have to represent information about themselves. The image of any politician is always based on reputation and depends on the communication recipient. The major goal of the mass media is focused on the simplification of the politician’s image. Philippe J. Maarek states that “the image of the politician would be more effective if it were as simple as possible”¯ (p. 42). The Internet gives an opportunity to create and effectively sell the politician’s image. Neil Postman (2006) is sure that new medium may have a creative effect and the Internet may shape political views of voters.
THE ROLE OF THE INTERNET IN TODAY’S POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS AND ELECTIONS
The Internet plays a significant role in today’s political campaigns and elections. In accordance with Dan Johnson (2000), “the Internet is altering how congressmen, lobbyists, government officials, activists and journalists shape public policy”¯ (p. 11). It means that practically all politicians who participate in political campaigns and elections have their Web sites which provide the most important political information about the candidates.
In addition, the Internet helps to launch effective large-scale advocacy campaigns which provide support to this or that political candidate or political party, raise money and attract more and more followers. Moreover, Dan Johnson(2000) states that today, the Internet gives the activists of various political parties the opportunity “to bombard government agencies and congressional offices with political e-mail messages”¯ (p. 11). The most important fact is that the Internet can gather new political information at an unprecedented rate and publish it online. This is very important for political candidates who have a great desire to win the elections. According to Mahesh S. Raisinghani and Randy Weiss (2011), “the Internet serves as an important tool for everyday citizens to communicate with elected officials at all levels of government”¯(p. 29). Ā The major issues include current policies, or certain suggestions about new legislation, or different matters concerning the work of the government. It is found that the Obama campaign widely used the Internet in the 2008 elections. The Internet also played an important role in “Republican candidate Ron Paul’s ability to raise millions despite being relatively unknown on the national stage”¯ (Wattal, Schuff & Mandviwalla, 2010, p. 669).