Nan Gao
Dylan Marks
Andrew Peterson
Chester Shiu

CS 201
Stanford University

Political Impact

Introduction | Informative Nonpartisan Websites | Information through e-mail | Campaign Websites | Political Interaction

Campaign Websites

Any type of effective campaign hinges on its ability to produce publicity and attention for support of its candidate or cause. With that in mind, it is not surprising that campaign websites have grown in popularity with the growth of the number of people connected to the Internet. In fact, among major party candidates for Congress and governorships, 46 percent had campaign web sites in 1998, 68 percent in 2000, and 76 percent in 2002. However, even though web sites have the possibility to reach many, citizens have to search out the web site on the Internet. It does not just appear on their doorstep. Because of this campaigns have been advised to refer to their website in every way possible (speeches, adds, signs, etc.) in order to attract as many visitors as possible. The benefits to the candidates is that they get to create a site in which they get to consolidate and present important and relevant information to potential voters that they will have complete control over. Therefore, all of the information will be endorsing their candidate or pushing their cause in some way.

Though the upsides of campaign websites seems to predominately be for the campaign itself, there are many upsides for voters as well. One such upside is how information published on the web in digital form can be, in theory, accessed forever. This means that if a candidate made a promise to voters during a speech in a small that was posted on the Internet, a time down the road may come when that politician may be held accountable for his promise and the proof will be easily accessed. This phenomenon could reduce the amount of “false promises” in all political action, especially information posted on websites. Another benefit to citizens is how the Internet can improve the availability of politicians to the public. Web sites can publicize and host Internet meetings in which interested persons can converse with candidates in an online forum. This is especially beneficial to those with disabilities or little time to attend rallies or meetings.

Web sites have become a staple for nearly every campaign but their benefit to the overall likelihood of victory is small. In 2000, Internet Campaign Solutions ( mounted an extensive content analysis of congressional campaign web sites. It found no correlation between high web site quality and victory, or between web site sophistication and incumbency, party, or being from a high-tech jurisdiction. Therefore, no matter how much time and energy is spent on web sites in campaigns, the outcomes of elections still do not have many direct relationships to victory.