Hendricks, John Allen and Kaid, Lynda Lee (Eds.). Techno Politics in Presidential Campaigns: New Voices, New Technologies, and New Voters

By Bicak, Pete | Communication Research Trends, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Hendricks, John Allen and Kaid, Lynda Lee (Eds.). Techno Politics in Presidential Campaigns: New Voices, New Technologies, and New Voters


Bicak, Pete, Communication Research Trends


Hendricks, John Allen and Kaid, Lynda Lee (Eds.). Techno Politics in Presidential Campaigns: New Voices, New Technologies, and New Voters. New York: Routledge, 2011. Pp. xxvi; 245. ISBN 978-0-41587978-1 (cloth) $131.00; 978-0-415-87979-8 (paper) $41.95; 978-0-203-85126-5 (eBook) no price available.

As I began this review of Hendricks and Kaid's new book on new technologies in presidential campaigns, the 2012 election e-mails had already begun rolling in. Just a day after Mitt Romney became the presumptive GoP candidate, the Obama campaign issued this e-mail:

   The other side thinks they can win by trashing
   me. But the outcome of this election will ultimately
   have more to do with what you do. Don't
   wait--donate $3 or more today:
   https://donate.barackObama.com/Ready Thank you, Barack.

And from Romney, in part, a few days later:

   Friend, you've probably seen the emails by now,
   but I just wanted to remind you that the deadline
   to enter for a chance to grab a bite with Ann
   Romney is tonight at midnight. You can read
   more about it from Mitt below. This is an awesome
   opportunity and I know Ann is really looking
   forward to meeting the winner.

Game on. The 2012 Presidential election will feature unprecedented use of multiple communication channels for all manner of campaign activity. To prepare for the onslaught, scholars should read the 12 essays in the volume that reviews the use of new technologies, (including e-mails just like those above) and new voices in 2008.

In the first section, "New Technologies," the essays draw from three major media channels: Twitter, the Internet, and e-mail. Monica Ancu reviews Twitter-use by the McCain and Obama campaigns. Her content analysis of Obama's 261 tweets and McCain's 27 tweets found that Obama mainly tweeted information about his campaign while McCain primarily tweeted information about his forthcoming campaign ads and links to his web site. Ancu reports that Obama garnered 115,000 followers compared to McCain's 3,000.

Towner and Dulio, in an essay titled "Web 2.0 Election," acknowledge that the web is no longer in its infancy as a media choice, and address the question of how the Internet affects "political knowledge, interest, and participation" (p. 23). They propose six hypotheses regarding levels of attention to presidential candidate websites and video sharing web sites as predictors of factual knowledge, issues stance knowledge, and likes and dislikes of candidates. The study differentiates between different types of online information and the effects on knowledge.

Williams and Serge focus on candidates' use of e-mail in the 2008 election. The authors examine all e-mails sent from the official campaign web sites between Labor Day and Election Day (n=68 for Obama, and n=63 for McCain). Six questions guide the research including the extent to which the e-mails were used for attacks on opponents, interactivity of email, and so on. One result showed that virtually all emails included a link to another site and a call for participation in the campaign. Other strategies, both in nature of the hyperlink and message strategy showed wider variation.

The essays in the next section, "New Voices and New Voters," shift from technology as a primary focus to profiles of the voters themselves. Haridakis and Hanson consider the wide and shifting landscape that serves as the backdrop of sources for political information. The researchers review material on media choice in political campaigns and eventually frame their study with seven motives: cynicism, self-efficacy, conservatism, elaboration and involvement, knowledge, political discussion, and intent to vote. Their comparison of students and adults to whom the students administered a questionnaire arrived at numerous conclusions including younger voters' interests in new media and older voters' commitment to traditional media. …

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