For this weeks blog posting, we read a couple of articles concerning interactivity and politics, namely social media. We also discussed our most recent election and the role social media played. In this post, I’ll talk about our discussions, focusing on the McCain effect, pulling ideas from the Lilleker and Jackson article.
In this last election, I think we saw the first time interactivity and social media were fully utilized, positively and negatively. We saw now President Obama fielding questions via Twitter and Youtube and creating social networks successfully, while other candidates didn’t share in that success. Obama presented one consistent brand, and used interactivity to portray that brand in innovative ways. He setup a weblog, and for every entry, allowed people to respond with comments. This sounds simple, but helped connect him with voters. Secondly, he created mybarackobama.com, a social networking site developed for the campaign. This provided a platform for supporters to communicate and connect with each other and the candidate. Lastly, he truly embraced the concept of an online presence. As previously mentioned, he leveraged Youtube, Twitter, MySpace, to name a few. Again, this helped him connect with a widespread voter-base. The result? He won the election.
On the other side of the campaign trail was John McCain. McCain, a celebrated soldier and long-standing senator, was an excellent candidate for the Republicans; however, he suffered from the McCain effect. In one light, he had to convince fellow republicans he was the candidate of choice, and in another light, he had to convince the general public. Part of this campaign involved videos we watched on Youtube, outlining very different messages. The first video, during the primaries, portrayed him as a true conservative. The second video, during the general election, showed democrats talking about how they respected McCain, and how he is a party-bucking maverick, one of the hot words of the election. So on one hand, McCain is the true conservative, but on the other hand, he will throw caution to the wind and potentially go against his own party if he see’s fit. This is called the McCain effect, and it was one of the main factors in him losing the election. In my opinion, he would’ve had a better chance at winning if he hadn’t selected Palin. I think she overshadowed him and became a bigger story, which is never a good situation. It will be interesting to see how social media and interactivity plays out in the next election, as it will only have a bigger role.