The move by candidates onto the Internet during the 1990s represents the latest in a long series of changes in electoral communication that stretches far back in American history. Television is commonly cited as the key technological development that has affected how politics works. But the relationship between changes in technology and changes in politics encompasses far, far more than simply the broadcasting of images and sound. Since the time of the founding of the republic itself, technological developments have afforded candidates for office a stream of new techniques for communicating their messages. The rotary press, telegraph, railroad, radio, computerized direct mail, and other innovations each altered opportunities and costs for communicating political messages, and in each case parties and candidates responded.
During the early days of the United States, candidates campaigned for office by giving speeches around their districts. Sometimes opposing candidates would travel together to reduce expenses. They would arrive in a town, take turns speaking, and then spend the night in the same hotel room before traveling on to the next stop in the morning. The mental image of candidates like George Bush and Al Gore sharing