2008 Presidential Campaign Websites

Joshua Levy points to some research conducted by Christine Williams an Jeff Gulati on the effectiveness of the presidential candidate websites. They find that the sites are, by and large, extraordinarily sophisticated compared to the 2006 congressional campaign sites:

  • Sixteen of the 20 candidates have a blog and nearly all allow visitor posts.
  • Fifteen of the candidates link to one and usually several social networks; two without links allow visitors to join a social network on the candidate’s own site.
  • Thirteen of the candidates provide message boxes for entering a custom or prepared message to e-mail friends encouraging their support or contributions; a few allow the sender to track their responses.
  • Six candidates currently offer RSS feeds.
  • Five candidates have used splash pages as introductory covers before entering their sites.

While Levy rightly notes that most of the sites “fail to properly take advantage of the many tools the web makes available,” the rapid evolution is remarkable. As PoliticsOnline CEO Phil Nobel pointed out in his talk at the Knight New Media Center Tuesday night, the first known politician Web site was created for Teddy Kennedy in 1994. That we’ve come in thirteen years to the point where the Web is such a prominent vehicle for voter communication and fundraising is remarkable.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Congress, Science & Technology, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. superdestroyer says:

    Does anyone think that a political website will affect the 90% of blacks who automatically vote Democratic, or the 75% of Hispanics who automatically vote Democratic, or the 65% of Asians who automatically vote Democratic, or the 85% of gays who automatically vote Democratic.

    Talking about campaign staffing, neat websites, and campaign strategies is fun for the upper middle class urban whites who are interested in politics. It gives them the false belief that they can actually affect the outcome.

    But in the end, it has almost no affect on the outcome of any national or large state election.
    The Internet may help get a few more people in a certain demographic to vote but in the long run, it basically pointless for the long term political trends in the United States. The birthrate of Hispanics in the United States along with Hispanic immigration will have a much greater impact than the internet.

  2. The attitude held by superdestroyer is exactly the kind of elitist mentality that KEEPS minorities disinterested. According to these stats which I just googled and pulled up, 70% of Americans have internet access. If you read my posts here at OTB, you may want to explore the possibility that minorities aren’t paying attention to the same things YOU are on the web, but they are still there nonetheless. The internet is not only used by middle-to-upper class white people and that is probably one of the most racially and socially irrelevant thing I’ve heard. It’s not a wonder that minorities vote the way they do. The other side embraces them – and I’m not even on a side.

  3. superdestroyer says:


    Ask yourself this, what would the Republicans do on the Internet that would increase the percentage of blacks, Hispanics, or Jews that vote for them. The answer is nothing because there is nothing that the Republicans can do in any other media that is going to increase the percentage of blacks, Hispanics, or Jews that vote for them.

    Pretending that the Republicans by having slick websites, IM, and myspace can attract more voters from groups that do not currently vote Republican is naive. If the Democratic Party did not bother with the Internet at all, they would get the same level of African-American support that they do now and if the Republicans have 1000 web initiatives to attract blacks and Hispanics they would still have the same level of support that they have now.

  4. I don’t believe that sitting by and letting the world go by is the right answer either. Sure, Republicans are generally percieved as out of touch but thats only because… wait for it… they are! So if the pachyderms want to BE in touch, they should be trying some things out and learning what can or can’t be done.

  5. superdestroyer says:


    There is nothing that the Republicans can do to stay relevant. The Republicans are forced to either get a larger portion of the white vote with each election cycle or to crack the Democrat’s hold on all non-white voters.

    Since either one is extremely doubtful, the only other outcome is the collapse of the Republicans as a viable political party. See all State Republican parties north of Virginia as examples of what will eventually happen at the national level.

    Websites may be more important when the Democratic Primary is the only relevant election in the United States but there will be so few competitive elections at that time, that the Internet will still be unimportant other than as an echo chamber for special interest.

    Do you really think that there can be any web initiative that would unseat any member of the Congressional Black Caucus?