"Technology is a commodity": The internet in the 2008 United States presidential election

  • Vaccari V
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Abstract

The role of the Internet as a tool for participation and organization has been considered the most important innovation in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign and one of the key strategic factors in Barack Obama's conquest of the Democratic nomination and the White House. This article analyzes e-campaigning in the 2008 election through data drawn from qualitative interviews with 31 consultants and operatives who were involved in the presidential race. Rather than adopting a technocentric perspective, our interviewees acknowledge that several contextual factors enhance or hinder the effectiveness of online tools, such as the message of the campaign, the candidate's personality, and his or her ability to generate enthusiasm in the electorate, together with the campaign's strategic prioritization of grassroots electioneering. Technology is seen more as an efficient channel of preexisting motivations and loyalties than as a driver of these attitudes. Moreover, while the Web has often been characterized as presenting campaigns with a dilemma between top-down hierarchy and bottom-up spontaneity, Internet professionals and operatives argue that contemporary e-campaigning tools can help achieve both goals and breed a hybrid organizing model that reconciles control and empowerment through the skillful use of individual data. These findings have important implications regarding the strategic and organizational dynamics of contemporary campaigns and the role of citizen participation within them. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Journal of Information Technology & Politics is the property of Taylor & Francis Ltd and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Barack obama
  • Internet politics
  • Online campaigning
  • Political organizations
  • U.s. 2008 presidential election
  • Voter mobilization

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Authors

  • Vaccari Cristian Vaccari

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