On-Line Campaigning: Will it Work?

January 3, 2008 - Posted at 5:19 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR - Hundreds of thousands of people are supporting different candidates for president in 2008...and that support is coming on-line.

"It's going to be very interesting as to what happens in Iowa and as to whether this new media is playing a major role," said ASU Political Science Professor Dr. Patrick Stewart.

Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace are all ways the presidential candidates are trying to connect with voters. Dr. Stewart says because of this new element, this election will be much different from the one four years ago.

"This gives people the opportunity to choose to find out information about the candidates and watch them," said Stewart.

Video sharing websites give voters the opportunity to post videos, not necessarily supported by the candidates, but many supported by the candidates. There have been attack ads on YouTube already.  For instance one by an Barrack Obama supporter attacking Hillary Clinton.

"Even though he didn't orchestrate it and both campaigns admitted that it's just showing how powerful it can be," said Stewart.

There have already been debates hosted by YouTube and MySpace and coming up this weekend another hosted by internet social networking site Facebook. The site shows how many supporters or ''friends'' each of the candidates have and the numbers are staggering.

Stewart says the use of these types of sites is a move he feels can make a difference.

"Its making us much more democratic much more along the lines of how democracy used to be in the face to face aspect of course it's virtual face to face and its responding the questions that individuals might have," said Stewart.

In fact these sites are giving a ''grass roots'' type base for some candidates who haven't done that well in traditional polls.

"I think the one thing we do see is the internet presence is huge," said Stewart. This isn't the first time a ''new medium'' has had the potential to make an impact on a presidential election.

"With Nixon vs. Kennedy what we saw is that someone who is youthful vibrant eloquent and is able to use the new media is going to be able to win the presidency and I think we're seeing an expansion on that with this new technology," said Stewart.

On Saturday at 6:00 there will be back to back republican and democrat debates on ABC, sponsored by My ABC, WMUR and Facebook.