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New article: The 2008 Digital Campaign in the United States: The Real Lesson for British Parties

Posted on Fri, Sep 19, 2008 at 12:00 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Nick Anstead and I have just published an article "The 2008 Digital Campaign in the United States: The Real Lesson for British Parties" in a special double issue of the journal Renewal. The issue is timed to coincide with the UK Labour Party's annual conference, which takes place next week. It contains a range of interesting papers.

Here's an excerpt from our conclusion, followed by the editors' description of the volume.

"Our analysis leads to an important conclusion for British politicians seeking to harness the power of the internet.
While it is certainly the case that British parties and candidates can learn something from the United States, precisely how they should measure their success in so doing is far from straightforward. The challenge is as much one of institutional design as it is about the adoption of the latest technology: how do we reform British politics to set free the full democratic potential of the internet? This is a long term project, but it could lead to huge rewards. Many of the issues identified in this article as significant are now frequently debated in the UK: democratising party organisations, forging links between parties and broader citizen campaigns, reforming campaign finance laws, and entrenching a culture of constitutional pluralism, to name but a few. It is now imperative that the relationship between political institutions and technology is considered in these debates.
The real lesson of Obama 2008 is that British parties need to approach this issue from two complementary perspectives. They should design their online campaigns so that they mesh with the aspects of their organisational structures and Britain’s electoral environment that they value and wish to maintain. But they should consider simultaneously how they might democratise their organisational structures and the electoral environment in ways likely to catalyse internet-enabled civic engagement."

RENEWAL Vol 16 No 3/4

A special double issue for autumn 2008 offers essential reading on the present economic, political, environmental, social, and ideological crisis. And it points to the new ideas, initiatives and alliances that could contain the right's revival and renew progressive politics.

With contributions from ADAM LENT on the excesses of the City and the crisis of civility ... MATTHEW WATSON on Gordon Brown's choice of intellectual hero... GRAHAM TURNER on the credit crunch as the consequence of unequal globalisation ... JOHN HOUGHTON on the failure of the market to deliver affordable and sustainable housing ... WILL DAVIES on the limits of New Labour's expertise ... SUNDER KATWALA on the need for a new pluralism ... JON CRUDDAS on reclaiming aspiration ... ANDREW SIMMS on the prospects for a green New Deal ... ROBIN WILSON on social democratic solutions to today's global challenges ... DAVID LAMMY on what we can learn from the US elections ... NICK ANSTEAD AND ANDREW CHADWICK on online campaigning ... DEBORAH LITTMAN on building grassroots movements ... KARMA NABULSI on mobilising to reanimate political institutions ...


a major essay by STUART WHITE on the economic thought of Andrew Glyn...

Notebook: LEN DUVALL on Tory London; and GIDEON RACHMAN on McCain vs Obama...

...and reviews by COLIN CROUCH on 'bad capitalism'; PAUL SEGAL on the causes of global poverty; and BEN JACKSON on the return of American liberalism

RENEWAL 16.3/4 is being sent out to subscribers now and can be ordered online from http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals.html



Email info@renewal.org.uk

Website http://www.renewal.org.uk

Political Communication Preconference and main APSA conference in Boston

Posted on Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 6:56 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Just a quick note to say that I'll be at the APSA conference in Boston next week. Nick Anstead and I are presenting our paper 'Parties, Election Campaigning and the Internet: Toward a Comparative Institutional Approach' (a chapter from the newly published Handbook of Internet Politics edited by Phil Howard and I) to the American Political Science Association Political Communication Section Annual Preconference, held at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, on August 27.

I'm the discussant for Panel 38-15: Political Communication Online at the main APSA Conference in Boston. Full details here.

Hope to see you there.

Call For Papers: YouTube and the 2008 Election Cycle in the United States

Posted on Mon, Jul 14, 2008 at 11:44 PM by Andrew Chadwick

I'd like to bring to your attention what promises to be an excellent - and much needed - event. Stuart Shulman and Michael Xenos are the organizers (I'm on the program committee).

YouTube and the 2008 Election Cycle in the United States

April 3 & 4, 2009 - Amherst, Massachusetts


A two-day conference jointly hosted by:

* The University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Political Science

* The Science, Technology, and Society Initiative (STS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

* The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

* The Journal of Information Technology & Politics (JITP)

* The Qualitative Data Analysis Program (QDAP)

Keynote Speakers

Richard Rogers, Professor in New Media & Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam and Director of govcom.org.

Noshir Contractor, Northwestern University, the Jane S. & William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences in the School of Engineering, School of Communication and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, USA.


The Program Committee encourages disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches rooted in political science, media studies, and communication scholarship. The JITP Editor strongly endorses new and experimental approaches involving collaboration with information and computer science scholars. Potential topics might include, but are not limited to:

- citizen initiated campaign videos,

- candidates' use of YouTube,

- bloggers use of YouTube to influence the primaries or election,

- the impact of YouTube on traditional or new media coverage of the election cycle,

- the effect of YouTube on citizen interest, knowledge, engagement, or voting behavior,

- social network analysis of YouTube and related election-oriented sites,

- political theory or communication theory and YouTube in the context of the 2008 election,

- new metrics that support the study of the "YouTube Effect" on elections,

- archives for saving and tools for mapping the full landscape of YouTube election content,

- use of YouTube in the classroom as a way to teach American electoral politics, or

- reviews of existing scholarship about YouTube.

Paper Submissions

Authors are invited to prepare and submit to JITP a manuscript following one of the six submission formats by January 7, 2009. These formats include research papers, policy viewpoints, workbench notes, review essays, book reviews, and papers on teaching innovation. The goal is to produce a special issue, or double issue, of JITP with a wide variety of approaches to the broad theme of "YouTube and the 2008 Election Cycle in the United States."

How to Submit

Everything you need to know about how to prepare and submit a strong JITP paper via the JITP web site is documented at http://www.jitp.net. Papers will be put through an expedited blind peer review process by the Program Committee and authors will be notified about a decision by February 15, 2009. A small number of papers will be accepted for presentation at the conference. Other paper authors will be invited to present a poster during the Friday evening reception. All posters must include a "YouTube" version of their research findings.

Best Paper and Poster Cash Prizes

The author (or authors) of the best research paper will receive a single $1,000 prize. The creator (or creators) of the best YouTube poster/research presentation will also receive a single prize of $1,000.

Conference Co-Chairs

Stuart Shulman, University of Pittsburgh

Michael Xenos, Louisiana State University

Program Committee

Sam Abrams, Harvard University

Micah Altman, Harvard University

Karine Barzilai-Nahon, University of Washington

Lance Bennett, University of Washington

Ryan Biava, University of Wisconsin

Bob Boynton, University of Iowa

Tom Carlson, Åbo Akademi University

Andrew Chadwick, Royal Holloway, University of London

Greg Elmer, Ryerson University

Kirsten Foot, University of Washington

Jane Fountain, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jeff Guliati, Bentley College

Mike Hais, Co-author, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics

Matthew Hale, Seton Hall University

Justin Holmes, University of Minnesota

Helen Margetts, Oxford Internet Institute

Mike Margolis, University of Cincinnati

Andrew McCallum, University of Massachusetts Amherst

John McNutt, University of Delaware

Andrew Philpot, University of Southern California-Information Sciences Institute

Antoinette Pole, Montclair State University

Stephen Purpura, Cornell University

Lee Rainie, Pew Internet & American Life Project

Jeffrey Seifert, Congressional Research Service

Mack Shelley, Iowa State University

Charlie Schweik, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Chirag Shah, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

John Wilkerson, University of Washington

Christine Williams, Bentley College

Morley Winograd, University of Southern California

Quan Zhou, University of Wisconsin-Stout

Notes from the YouGovStone/FT Ask the Experts event on the US election

Posted on Fri, May 16, 2008 at 3:45 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Digital Politics: Effects of the Information Age on the 2008 U.S. Election and Beyond, US Embassy May 15, 2008


* Phil Noble (US) Noble & Associates, Washington DC, Founder – PoliticsOnline
* Dr Andrew Chadwick (UK), Head, Department of Politics and International Relations and Director, New Political Communication Unit, Royal Holloway, University of London
* Joanna Shields (US) International President, Bebo
* Jimmy Leach (UK) Director of Digital Communications, Freud Communications and former Head of Digital Communications for the Prime Minister’s Office

Last night I was one of the panellists at this event. It was a lively and interesting debate, with a good range of perspectives and lots of opportunities for audience members to ask questions. Gideon Rachman from the FT was a superb chair, even managing to squeeze in several email questions along the way. You can also view the webcast here. Carole Stone of YouGovStone and the staff at the US Embassy made us feel very welcome while we waited in the Benjamin Franklin room and during the drinks reception that followed.

First up was Phil Noble, now something of an internet campaign veteran. Phil spoke enthusiastically about the Obama campaign and of how the metrics of success for judging campaigns were now evolving. There were some remarkable statistics about Obama’s online fundraising – currently around the quarter of a million dollar mark.

I followed Phil. My talk - The 2008 Digital Campaign: What's New and Why Things Will (Almost) Always Be Different in the UK - was divided between making four basic points about the current campaign before providing a brief snapshot of mine and Nick Anstead’s research on the interplay between the internet and party institutions and electoral environment. The text of my speech is included below this summary.

Joanna Shields, International President of Bebo, one of the biggest social networking sites and soon to be acquired by AOL, came next, with an interesting perspective on the activities of young people away from the formal politics of voting.

Finally, Jimmy Leach brought us all down to earth with a dose of scepticism, not to mention humour, about politicians’ abilities to adapt to the new communication environment. For example, will the openness of the network campaign continue when a candidate enters office? Not likely, Jimmy suggested.


Gideon Rachman’s blog entry at the FT.

YouGovStone site.


Here’s what I said…

The 2008 Digital Campaign: What's New, and Why Things Will (Almost) Always Be Different in the UK

First, I want to highlight four big themes in online campaigning that we’ve seen - so far - in the 2008 electoral cycle in the United States.

Second, as a political scientist, I’ll briefly consider a major puzzle: why has the internet had a greater impact on parties and election campaigning in the United States than it has in the UK?

So, what’s new and interesting in the 2008 US electoral cycle?

First : it seems to me that the internet is coming of age as a platform for political discourse. It has moved from the model of static pages toward a means of enabling a wide range of goals to be achieved through networked software services. Joanna Shields’ company, Bebo, is obviously a significant part of this general trend.

A second big theme of this election is collective intelligence in online campaigning. A distributed network of creators and contributors, the majority of them amateurs, can, using simple online tools, produce information goods that may better those produced by so-called authoritative sources. Though this is not entirely new - we saw this emerge with Howard Dean in 2004 - we now have a recognisable and proven campaigning model. It is based on online venues loosely meshed together through automated linking technologies, particularly blogs and social networking applications.

The internet now enables ongoing citizen vigilance on a grand scale. Political actors and media elites now inhabit an always-on environment in which it is impossible to escape the “little brother” surveillant gaze of citizen-reporters, from Twitter feeds to Flickr photostreams of marches and demonstrations ignored by mainstream media, to video bloggers and their YouTube uploads. One good example here is Mayhill Fowler, the citizen journalist who first published Barack Obama’s now infamous ‘Bittergate’ remarks a few weeks ago.

A third big theme is that online video is now much more important than it was. YouTube has made a sizeable dent in earlier predictions of the emergence of the slick televisual online campaign, able only to be resourced by wealthy politicians. YouTube video conversations are often effective precisely because they don’t depend upon professional media production techniques.

And what are people watching on YouTube? Well, alongside the countless videos of people using Mentos candy to explode bottles of diet Coke, we find citizens watching unedited 37-minute long political speeches! Consider Obama’s ‘More Perfect Union’ speech delivered in Philadelphia a couple of months ago. By last week, almost 5.5 million people had watched that speech in its entirety. We know this because YouTube does not count partial viewings. [Update: August 21, 2008: whether it does in fact only count complete viewings is uncertain. See here.] Micah Sifry of the Techpresident blog, who we had as a speaker at a recent conference on the politics of web 2.0 at Royal Holloway, has spoken of this as a shift from the sound bite to the sound blast.

My fourth and final big theme is that data are now everything. Those who can successfully mine, refine and subsequently protect it are more likely to emerge as dominant. But the interesting thing is that most of these data have been created by the labor of volunteers and they may simply be the by-products of countless distributed and coincidental interactions. Election campaigns in the United States are now characterized by obsessive and continuous recalibration in response to instant online polls, fundraising drives, comments lists on YouTube video pages, and blog posts. But the key point is that informational value emerges from a combination of distributed user generated content and its centralized exploitation. It blends the campaign war room with the campaign network.

So, briefly, to an interesting puzzle: Why has the internet had a greater impact on parties and election campaigning in the United States than it has in the United Kingdom?

This is a quick snapshot of a forthcoming research paper that I’ve co-authored with my colleague, Nick Anstead.

To answer this question we need to understand how the internet interacts with political institutions - in particular, the organization of political parties and the norms and rules of the electoral environment. These vary greatly across political systems.

So we need to ask: what kinds of institutional features are more likely to have affinities with the technological characteristics of internet communication? A comparative approach allows us to hypothesize what may, or may not, gain traction in different political systems.

We hypothesize that different types of party organization and electoral environment have the potential to catalyze or to retard the development of internet campaigning. This is so because these institutions make new communication technologies more or less useful to candidates and parties.

When looked at comparatively, American parties and campaigns are unusual political institutions - quite different from those found in most European liberal democracies.

Consider two aspects of this:

The US is a much more pluralistic political system than the UK. It is federal, it has a strong separation of powers, and parties are comparatively weak and they are not nationally integrated. The UK is, despite devolution, a unitary system, has a very weak separation of powers, and parties and comparatively strong, integrated and hierarchical.

The pluralistic environment in the United States makes it necessary to build campaign networks composed of horizontal and vertical connections that mesh with the fundamentally fluid basis of the system.

Compare this with the UK, where the lines of communication are more vertically oriented, more firmly drawn and are based in long established formal structures with accompanying bureaucracies. The internet's suitability for creating loose horizontal networks has fewer affinities with this set of arrangements.

Second, the mechanisms for candidate recruitment and selection are also radically different in the two countries.

In the US, primaries and caucuses offer an institutional framework for sanctioned dissent. In the UK, the environment for candidate selection is much less open and fluid, and more nationally-oriented.

The long timescale and the uncertainty of the primaries encourages ‘outsiders’ and forces all candidates to continually build coalitions of support.

When the context is fluid, the risks are high, but the costs of organizational innovation are low, candidates are more likely to experiment online

In the UK, there are (literally) no, or very, very few, ‘outsider’ candidates, the selection process is internal to parties, to a fixed timetable and it’s nationally-uniform.

So in the UK, there is less need to use the internet for lowering costs and reducing uncertainty and risk by spreading a campaign across a wide range of networks.

There are other important differences between the two systems, such as the broader media environment and the rules governing campaign finance. If you want more detail on this argument, do feel free to download the paper at our website at Royal Holloway.

By way of a conclusion, I’d like to remind you that the subtitle of my talk was Why Things Will (Almost) Always Be Different in the UK.

Things may be changing as we speak, mainly because the eroding permanent membership base of British parties may actually be incentivizing them to seek alternative models to mobilize support. Watch this space!

[Crossposted from the New Political Communication Unit group blog]

Edited on: Thu, Aug 21, 2008 5:43 PM


Posted on Mon, Apr 07, 2008 at 12:57 PM by Andrew Chadwick

WikiCandidate is a fascinating experiment in user-generated content focused on a very specific exercise: the creation of a virtual campaign for a fictional presidential candidate.

Run by a team of students led by Professor Tarleton Gillespie of the Department of Communication at Cornell, the site aims to enable you, the plain old regular internet user, to:

"create a "perfect" presidential candidate unfettered by a checkered past or foot-in-mouth syndrome. The only stipulation is that the candidate you build must be agreed upon by the other participants on the site. To reach an agreement, you may need to promote your opinions and positions on various issues, or compromise with other users on some points to gain support for the candidate."

The project has only just begun and things are likely to heat up soon. The most interesting pages to date are those set aside for "Issues." These contain entries on affordable local food, education reform, healthcare, and so on. There is also a section labelled "Coalitions" as well as a Donate button (not for cash donations, but for "donating" survey answers when the team conduct analysis of the experiment later on).

The site is based on a hybrid blog and wiki platform, the aim being to get some discussion going about the candidate's policies and character.

This is an interesting project - a nice mix of ideas about sociotechnical design and civic engagement. The WikiCandidate experiment will be the subject of a panel at next week's Politics: Web 2.0 Conference at Royal Holloway, University of London, organised by the New Political Communication Unit. The final conference programme is now published.


Nick Anstead liveblogging Super Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Feb 05, 2008 at 8:27 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Just a quick note to let you know that my colleague Nick Anstead will be liveblogging the Super Tuesday results tonight. It promises to be quite a night...

Iowa and online politics - is there a story?

Posted on Fri, Jan 04, 2008 at 2:01 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Picking through the bones of the Iowa result and its implications for online campaigning it is a reasonable hypothesis that the huge increase in the youth vote at caucus might have had something to do with the result itself. Clinton slipped badly while Edwards did better than expected and Obama did very well indeed. See this article by Michael Connery at the Daily Kos, which argues that

"Young voters are increasingly moving in the direction of Democrats, and tonight, the Obama campaign - thanks to a savvy youth operation that reached out on Facebook and MySpace, at high schools and on college campuses - was able to capitalize on that to attain victory."

APSA Annual Meeting, Chicago: Mobilization and Participation: The Internet 10 Years Later

Posted on Tue, Aug 28, 2007 at 9:58 PM by Andrew Chadwick

I'll be presenting a paper entitled 'Digital Network Repertoires and Organizational Hybridity' to panel 40-8: Mobilization and Participation: The Internet 10 Years Later at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting in Chicago on Friday August 31st. Panel details on the APSA site here. Hope to see you there if you're in the neighbourhood.

The YouTube Democratic primary debates

Posted on Wed, Jul 25, 2007 at 11:10 PM by Andrew Chadwick

An excellent article on the so-called YouTube effect on US politics. While it's short on analysis, it pulls together the best of the recent examples. Highly recommended.

In a related area, the verdicts on the first CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential primary debates are now emerging. There's a decent analysis by NPR's Robert Smith (audio) which basically asks whether this was a gimmick or real innovation, and, indeed, whether the web made any difference. The candidates came across much as they do in traditional TV debates. The unpredictable elements came from the user-submitted videos and the post-debate discussion on the YouTube site.

See also some useful video highlights on the LA Times site. The Republican equivalent will take place in September.

[An earlier version of this post was published on the New Political Communication Unit blog]

New Statesman New Media Awards

Posted on Wed, Jul 11, 2007 at 10:39 PM by Andrew Chadwick

New Statesman logo

Looking at the list of finalists for this year's New Statesman New Media Awards, I'm impressed by a) the mainstream political entries (Cameron and the Downing Street E-Petitions) and b) what we might call 'non-official but with a mainstream purpose' sites (18 Doughty Street, The Government Says, PlanningAlerts).

Politickr.net Yahoo Pipes campaign sites mashup

Posted on Tue, Apr 10, 2007 at 11:30 PM by Andrew Chadwick

This is in the same vein as David Silver's and David de Ugarte's wannabepresidents aggregator, only more so, with flickr photos, youtube videos and blog posts from all the current US presidential candidates. Built with Yahoo Pipes, so you'll be able to customise it if you have the time and the patience.

All the (wannabe) presidents' blogs

Posted on Thu, Mar 22, 2007 at 11:24 PM by Andrew Chadwick

David Silver and David de Ugarte have built a page that brings together all of the primary candidates' blogs (or at least those that have rss feeds) in an attractive format, at wannabepresidents.com.

Personal Democracy Forum

Posted on Wed, Mar 21, 2007 at 7:17 PM by Andrew Chadwick

I'm really enjoying the coverage of the primaries this time around, especially the excellent Personal Democracy Forum with its informative round-ups. Highly recommended.

(Crossposted at the New Political Communication Unit Blog).


Posted on Mon, Mar 19, 2007 at 2:32 PM by Andrew Chadwick

OpenCongress - the latest excellent example of context-rich web media.

Blog your way to an Obama nomination

Posted on Mon, Feb 12, 2007 at 11:40 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Some quite impressive developments in the Obama primary campaign, with a new MyBarackObama web 2.0 site. The idea of providing a platform for thousands of individual blogs is genuinely new.


Clinton missing the point about online video?

Posted on Mon, Jan 22, 2007 at 6:19 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Curiously staged announcement from Hillary Clinton - and on the official site rather than YouTube, though within a few hours somebody got hold of a copy and uploaded it. My hunch: that it's been done like this deliberately to distance Clinton from the 'ragged' netroots approach of Obama and Edwards. It says: 'I'm a safe, old-fashioned candidate'.

Update: the campaign is obviously shrewder than I thought.

Edited on: Fri, Jan 26, 2007 5:57 PM

New Pew report: Net more important for campaign news for young

Posted on Mon, Jan 22, 2007 at 5:57 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Another excellent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project in Washington, DC. The major findings:

"The number of Americans using the internet as their main source of political news doubled since the last mid-term election.
31% of Americans used the internet during the 2006 campaign to get political news and information and discuss the raced through email. We call them campaign internet users.
Relatively young broadband users say the internet is a more important political news source than newspapers.
A new online political elite is emerging as 23% of campaign internet users became online political activists.
While mainstream news sources still dominate the online news and information gathering by campaign internet users, a majority of them now get political material from blogs, comedy sites, government websites, candidate sites or alternative sites.
While most campaign internet users say convenience is a major reason they use the internet, more than half cite the internet’s breadth of information and perspectives as a major reason for their online activity.
Republicans and Democrats were equally likely to rely on the internet – but there were partisan trends in usage of other political news sources."

Most surprising are the findings relating to growth in the numbers producing and distributing content:

"8% of campaign internet users posted their own political commentary to a newsgroup, website or blog.
13% of them forwarded or posted someone else’s political commentary.
1% of them created political audio or video recordings.
8% of them forwarded or posted someone else’s political audio or video recordings.
Altogether, 23% of campaign internet users (or 11% of internet users and 7% of the entire U.S. population) had done at least one of those things. That translates into about 14
million people."

Also, while TV is still the dominant source of campaign news, for those under the age of 36 with broadband, the Internet was second only to TV (and double the score for newspapers) in terms of where people got most of their election news.

US primary campaign season kicks off... on Youtube

Posted on Wed, Jan 03, 2007 at 11:38 PM by Andrew Chadwick

A caustic but informative post from Jeff Jarvis about the recent launch of John Edwards' campaign.

We'll have to wait and see how recycled TV slots versus DIY video plays out during the forthcoming campaign, but already I'm beginning to rethink one of the themes of Chapter Seven - that online video will increasingly favour wealthy candidates. If the video is going to look like this...

...cost will make little difference.

Oh, and Edwards currently has 7500 friends on MySpace.

Blogs about e-campaigning

Posted on Mon, Dec 11, 2006 at 5:17 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Alan Rosenblatt from the Internet Advocacy Center has compiled a useful little list of practitioner blogs about e-campaigning.

See also this interesting post by one of the PhD students in my Department, Nick Anstead.

Edited on: Tue, Dec 12, 2006 10:27 PM

Democrats take House and Senate - netroots wins?

Posted on Fri, Nov 10, 2006 at 9:42 AM by Andrew Chadwick

The US mid-terms are over. The House and Senate have gone to the Democrats. Does this signal the ascendancy of the Democrats' netroots campaign style and the eclipse of the GOP's voter vault strategy? As usual, even the impressionistic evidence is contradictory. Lieberman actually won as an 'Independent', beating 'Net' Lamont. I'm not sure that's a good test for the hypothesis though, given that it was one Democrat against another. Virginia went blue, and that was partly based on the media's framing of incumbent George Allen's racist slur following a posting on YouTube of his 'macaca' remarks. But this was about the mainstream media picking up a story rather than just being about the viral nature of the net. An excellent first take by Nick Anstead.

In the wider campaign, I am amazed that a report from the early summer said that 'only 23 percent of Senate candidates were blogging'. Amazed, that is, that the number is so high. From a base of what at the 2004 Senate elections? Less than 5 percent probably. It's also probably too low due to the fact that it was six months before the elections. Thanks to Wainer Lusoli for digging that one out.

A round-up of stories (will be added to):

  • Howard Dean, described by the Guardian as "one of the engineers of this week's Democratic victory in the US midterm elections", is to advise the British Labour Party on campaigning strategy for the Spring local elections.
  • Pre-poll story from Joshua Holland dwelling on the importance of netroots networks: "Doing so is easier than ever because of the emergence of a nascent but growing liberal infrastructure organized via the internet -- the "netroots," ActBlue, MediaMatters, MoveOn, Progressive Majority, Drinking Liberally and a long list of others are all starting -- starting -- to have a real impact by giving average people the tools they need to share ideas, pool resources and influence the media's narratives. Each cycle they've grown a little bit in sophistication, and each cycle they've had just a little bit more influence than they did in the previous one."
  • Ari Melber article from The Nation reprinted at the CBS News site, sceptical of netroots, but with several critical comments.
  • Joe Conason at Salon on the contribution of Dean's strategy to build the Democrats' netroots in every state.
  • Aggregated table of the 'netroots' candidates at John Kerry's blog.
  • Response from George Osborne of the UK Conservatives.
  • A different take by Matthew Taylor, Blair's outgoing chief adviser on political strategy.
Edited on: Sat, Nov 18, 2006 7:41 PM

Voter Vault

Posted on Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 9:28 AM by Andrew Chadwick

It seems to be becoming a quiet orthodoxy that GOP's Voter Vault trumps the Democrats' 'Deanspace' netroots model. Let's wait and see.

Clinton and the blogosphere

Posted on Thu, Sep 28, 2006 at 10:06 AM by Andrew Chadwick

Thanks to Nick Anstead for alerting me to a story I missed in the frenzy of taking over as Head of Department and moving house at the same time (not advisable).

Clinton with Bloggers

Bill Clinton met with the top 20 liberal US bloggers, perhaps with an eye to garnering support for Hillary's election campaign? On a lighter note, one of the few times you're likely to see a pepper grinder and an ipod in the same photo?

UK Liberal Democrats' online policy consultations

Posted on Wed, Sep 20, 2006 at 9:41 AM by Andrew Chadwick

Lib Dems Policy Consultation image

Some interesting developments over at the UK LibDems' website, including a new online policy consultations section. This features consultative documents and comments forms. The discussions do not feature threads but provide for a simple list of comments (presumably heavily moderated behind the scenes). It's essentially a blog with commenting, and not a discussion forum. In that sense it is based on similar principles to the US Democrats site.

MySpace and politics

Posted on Mon, Jun 05, 2006 at 10:38 AM by Andrew Chadwick

I was slightly surprised to read Victor Keegan in The Guardian mentioning the role of MySpace in campaigning during the recent National Union of Students elections. Having Googled around a bit it seems there is something bubbling under. I've been working on a project with my colleague James Sloam (a long way from seeing the light of day) about whether parties can adapt to young people's changing modes of political participation and this is intriguing. Watch this (My)Space.

Update: See the Comments on this post.

Edited on: Wed, Jun 14, 2006 5:52 PM

New Labour, new web strategy?

Posted on Sat, May 06, 2006 at 6:39 PM by Andrew Chadwick

After the government's meltdown in the local elections, Blair has given Hazel Blears the job of revamping the party's website. The aim is to appeal to younger voters through greater interactivity:

"We must move from a mainly passive relationship...to one where supporters interact with us, with local party members and with each other."

It'll be interesting to see if this means convergence on the US Democratic Party model.

Update: more evidence for a potential 'culture shift' from Nick Anstead?

Edited on: Sat, May 13, 2006 7:59 PM

IPDI PoliticsOnline Conference 2006

Posted on Thu, Apr 06, 2006 at 4:00 PM by Andrew Chadwick

This looks like it was excellent. Maybe I'll have the days free to attend it next year.

Deleted Scenes #03: E-Voting in the 2000 Arizona Primary

Posted on Sat, Feb 11, 2006 at 1:18 AM by Andrew Chadwick

This planned Exhibit on e-voting didn't make the final cut of Chapter 07: Parties, Candidates, and Elections: E-Campaigning.

The first major innovation in e-voting came in the form of the Arizona Democratic Party's 2000 presidential primary (Alvarez and Nagler, 2001, Solop, 2001). The first binding Internet election for public office to be held in the United States, the primary offered voters a choice between remote voting via the Internet, traditional postal voting, Internet voting at 124 polling places and old fashioned paper ballot at the polling place. The election was handled by a private company, Election.com (now defunct). Personal identification numbers for individual voter authentication purposes were mailed to over 800,000 registered Democrats in Arizona along with postal vote forms. Voters could vote remotely during the three days leading up to the March 10 election day (Solop, 2001: 290). The results showed that just under 36,000 voters (41%) chose to vote remotely using the Internet. Traditional postal votes numbered just under 33,000 (38%). Only 16% turned up in person to mark a paper ballot, while 5% used Internet connected machines in the polling places.

Move beyond these basic facts, however, and the true significance of the primary becomes hazy. Frederick Solop argues that turnout increased a massive 723 per cent between the 1996 and 2000 primaries. However, Michael Alvarez and Jonathan Nagler point out that 1996 had been the first attempt at a genuine statewide primary in the state - for the Republicans. The Democrats were unable to hold a true primary in 1996 and fell back on a small-scale preference contest. Comparisons between 1996 and 2000 are therefore much less robust than historical comparisons across a number of years (Alvarez and Nagler, 2001: 1136). They also point out that overall turnout was poor: only 10.5% of registered Democrats bothered to vote at all, though they acknowledge that this could be a reflection of the fact that by the time of the Arizona primary it was obvious that Al Gore had secured the nomination.

There were other problems with the election. Around 4% of registered voters tried but were unable to cast their vote using the Internet, largely, it seems, because they were using web browsers that could not handle cookies or secure connections. A unsuccessful lawsuit filed by a group calling itself the Voting Integrity Project argued that unequal Internet access meant that the ballot would be racially discriminatory and therefore in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. (Solop, 2001: 290). There were also widespread security concerns about the e-voting system used by Election.com. No other states followed Arizona in 2000. In 2004, Michigan's Democrats held their primary online, causing many of the same issues to rise to the surface, effectively putting a moratorium on remote e-voting in the United States.


Alvarez, R. M. and Nagler, J. (2001) 'The Likely Consequences of Internet Voting for Political Participation' Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 34 (3), pp. 1115-1152.
Solop, F. I. (2001) 'Digital Democracy Comes of Age: Internet Voting and the 2000 Arizona Democratic Primary Election' PS: Political Science and Politics 34 (2), pp. 289-93.

Edited on: Sat, Feb 11, 2006 1:36 AM

Deleted Scenes #02: The E-Rate Campaign

Posted on Sat, Feb 11, 2006 at 1:18 AM by Andrew Chadwick

This passage about the E-Rate Campaign in the United States as an example of organizational adaptation didn't make the final cut of Chapter 07: Parties, Candidates, and Elections: E-Campaigning.

Another example that nicely illustrates the Internet's impact on traditional interest groups may be found in the areas of education and telecommunications policy. The 'E-Rate' campaign of the late-1990s centred around provisions in the US Telecommunications Act of 1996 establishing 'universal service' as a doctrine shaping access to newly emerging digital networks. The main aim of universal service was to establish a framework of discounts, subsidies and standards that would allow rural as well as urban areas to benefit from the roll out of new telecommunication infrastructures. Following an amendment to the bill as it proceeded through Congress, largely the product of a quiet but concerted lobbying effort by a number of educational groups, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was empowered to set discount rates to which telecommunication companies were compelled to adhere when selling their services to schools and libraries. These discounts, which were partly but not wholly offset by federal subsidy, became known as the 'E-Rate'.

Not surprisingly, during 1997, the FCC was flooded with applications from schools and colleges eager to obtain discounts for wiring up their classrooms. Appalled at the rise in applicants, the major US telecommunication companies, AT&T, MCI, Bellsouth and others started a campaign to have Congress reconsider the E-Rate, claiming that it constituted an unfair 'tax' on the industry that they would be compelled to pass on to consumers. Their campaign won the support of many Republican Members of Congress, and within a year of its introduction, this aspect of the 1996 Telecommunications Act was under threat.

The response by the educational groups that had pressed for the E-Rate in the original bill was to create a new national organization: a 'Save The E-Rate Coalition'. With the financial help of the wealthy National Education Association and the expertise of Capitol Advantage, a Washington based political communication consultancy, the Coalition established an Intranet to internally co-ordinate action, and a public-facing web site providing information and tools citizens could use to contact their Member of Congress and the FCC. In the two month period between May and June 1998, the Save The E-Rate Coalition orchestrated the sending of around 20,000 emails to Congress at a total cost of only $40,000. Moreover, the Coalition leaders were able to monitor the transmission of messages and tailor their strategy accordingly, focusing on particularly important individuals' mailboxes (Bimber, 2003: 158-159). In June 1998, the FCC came under pressure to make a decision about the E-Rate's future. As a compromise, a diluted version of the discount structure emerged, which tightened up the rules on which schools could apply for the cheap rates. But the principle of the E-Rate was left intact, and by 1999, around three quarters of US public schools and half of its libraries had applied for E-Rate discounts.


Bimber, B. (2003) Information and American Democracy: Technology in the Evolution of Political Power (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge).

Edited on: Sat, Feb 11, 2006 1:36 AM

Barack Obama and podcasting

Posted on Thu, Feb 09, 2006 at 5:33 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Just when you thought it was safe to assume that 'media convergence' meant more video on politicians' websites, there are some curious trends occurring. Democratic Senator (and future presidential candidate?) Barack Obama has been podcasting speeches in audio since September 2005. Thanks to one of my students at RHUL, Danica Dawson, for alerting me to this.

Obama Podcasts

The political impact of blogs

Posted on Mon, Jan 23, 2006 at 4:11 PM by Andrew Chadwick

An excellent article by K. Daniel Glover at Beltway Blogroll on the political impact of blogs in the United States. It's packed with good examples, and has an evolutionary perspective that's often lacking in this area. Highly recommended.

For a surprising complement to this, see the recent article by former prime ministerial spinner Alastair Campbell enthusing about the power of the Net to reshape parties. Thanks to my third year student, Kerri Mackay for alerting me to this.

Paul Hackett and the "digital insurgency"?

Posted on Tue, Dec 06, 2005 at 3:34 PM by Andrew Chadwick

A useful article at Motherjones chronicling the role of the net in the rise of the Democrat Paul Hackett.

See also a decent Wikipedia entry.

Are you a mociologist?

Posted on Tue, Nov 15, 2005 at 10:47 PM by Andrew Chadwick

John Sutherland has a good little interview in The Guardian's 'ideas' feature, with Joe Trippi, former Dean campaign manager, and author of the superb book The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Apparently mociology is a term Trippi uses to refer to things we do with mobile, Internet-enabled devices.

As for blogging, Trippi has some views about why the Democrats have embraced a more interactive web strategy:

There is, Trippi says, no inherent reason for mociology to favour liberal causes - "the technology doesn't know or care what ideology is using it" - but, in practice, it has not yet become a tool for the right. "I think the one problem the right has on the internet and blogging is that they tend to be so disciplined about command and control," he suggests. "That's worked very well for them up to now. But it doesn't, and it won't, work for them on the net. Conservatives tend to use the net as a data communications vehicle. For them, it's a messaging machine. The Democrats - the progressives - are much better at growing big connected communities."

I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced by this. The net appeals to those with a libertarian (small 'l') outlook. You can be a libertarian Democrat, a libertarian Republican, even a libertarian Marxist. The net appeals to all of these people. The Bush team use the Internet in the way they do because they are on the authoritarian side of the libertarian-authoritarian spectrum. Things could be different with a different type of Republican...

New Statesman's conference blog

Posted on Mon, Sep 19, 2005 at 10:26 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Blogging is becoming increasingly widespread among professional journalists in the UK, and not just the tech news crowd, as The New Statesman's party conference blog demonstrates.

'Blogifying' party websites

Posted on Thu, Sep 15, 2005 at 10:15 AM by Andrew Chadwick

The new US Democratic Party website, launched at the end of June, 2005, has been radically 'blogified'. There is a prominent headline blog, but virtually the whole site, including most of its issue and subnational sections, has been given over to a chronological 'post and comments' format. There are no discussion boards, but the various blogs are already attracting some major traffic, especially given that it's a fairly quiet time in US electoral politics.

This is a direct result of the sea change that occurred in 2003-04. It represents a huge shift in the style of party websites, not only when compared with the 2000 campaign, but also the 2002 midterms. Dismissals of the non-interactive nature of politicians' sites (at least in the US) are looking increasingly anachronistic.

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