The Networked Election

American voters have selected a new president, who will be sworn in early next year. In addition to Barack Obama, I can identify another big winner in this year’s election: networks.

Although the use of the Internet as a means for reaching voters and raising money had been seen in prior U.S. elections — take Howard Dean’s “Deaniacs” in 2004, for instance — it played a prominent role in many campaigns this year. Here’s how a few candidates made waves on the Web.

Obama’s Social Network

Although his first forays into social networks were somewhat ham-fisted, Obama leveraged this new medium to great effect as he used his profiles on MySpace and Facebook as virtual meeting places for young people. While virtually all candidates did this, perhaps none did it as well as Obama.

Certainly, none collected as many “friends” — Obama has more than 800,000 on MySpace — and his Facebook page is as good a place to find information on his campaign as his official Web site. And regardless of the outcome, the unprecedented number of young voters who participated in this election undoubtedly was due in part to social networks.

McCain and the RNC’s Open-Source Platform

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate John McCain was maligned — perhaps unfairly — for his apparent unfamiliarity with e-mail. However, McCain and the GOP did have at least one interesting and fairly unique way to get supporters to participate in the campaign on the Web.



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