Does the Internet gain us votes? What is the best way to use the new capacities that the Internet provides? These questions were central to the campaigns in 2000, even as they committed many hundreds of thousands of dollars to developing and extending their Internet operations throughout the general election season.
These questions reflect an uncertainty on the part of candidate campaigns about how effective this new medium would be in helping secure electoral victory. Using content analyses and interviews with the staff associated with candidate campaigns, this chapter will look at how the various organizations attempted to answer these questions in the 2000 campaign. (For a discussion of our methodology, see the appendix.) We will examine candidate strategies and goals and how these were reflected in the content and functions built into their Web sites.
The Internet is not simply plopped into an electoral campaign. Rather, to reach voters, candidates adopt strategies that address various aspects of the campaign, such as incumbency or name recognition, policy issues, the liabilities of their opponents, and the general campaign environment specific to a particular year. 1 The strategies accom-