In 2004 the internet was credited with much of the early success, and even the later flame out, of the Howard Dean Campaign, though it was not considered a major factor in the Kerry or Bush campaigns.
Fast forward to the already hopping 2008 presidential campaigns where most observers, including the New York Times are suggesting the internet will play a significant strategic and marketing role for most if not all candidates vying for the US Presidency.
Who would benefit most from a “web centric” campaign system? Hard to say since onliners, especially those who blog regularly, are a curious blend of outspoken conservatives and liberals (I’d say more conservative banter on average).
At first glance it seems Barack Obama would have the online edge as he is arguably the most charismatic, young, and hip candidate and should play well with the young internet audience. However in an election the blog banter will probably drive the discussion of the candidates and it’s hard to predict how well prominent blogs like DailyKos or Drudge will process candidate information.
The transparent right wing bias of Fox News pales in comparison to bloggers like Anne Coulter or Michelle Malkin whose “frothing at the mouth” style is fun too read but hardly generates the intelligent reflection that best serves the democratic process.
However, elections aren’t won on deep reflection or discussion of issues. They are now based largely on careful modelling of primary states combined with targeted negative campaign ads on television combined with superficial media analysis of small gaffs or personality quirks.
Maybe a political technology injection is just what Doctor Democracy has ordered.