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Congressional Campaign Communications in an Internet Age (WP-11-11)

James Druckman

The Internet provides new opportunities for candidates to engage with voters and present information in ways that could enhance the nature of candidate-voter interactions.  Yet, candidates have to think carefully about using these opportunities, as they could be costly under certain circumstances.  In this paper, Druckman explores the conditions that lead congressional candidates to capitalize on these opportunities using data from the 2008 campaign.  He finds that candidates do not uniformly embrace new communication and interactive features; instead, their use is driven by practical (e.g., campaign funds) and political (e.g., incumbency status, race competitiveness) considerations that are in line with more general campaign strategies.  Far from being a panacea promoting candidate-voter interaction, candidate use of website technology reflects a recognition of practical realities and a commitment to strategic decision-making.

James Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science, and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

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