Week 4 – Digital Electioneering

Our ambitious task for the evening:
A contemporary look at campaign use of technology. How are political campaigns using (and abusing) digital technologies? How has digital electioneering changed between 2004 and 2008? What might the future bring? How are these technologies being used to “Brand” candidates and how are “other” campaigns (not presidential, not statewide) using these technologies?


  • Overview/Housekeeping
  • Guest Speaker Mary McGlohon is a PhD student in the Machine Learning Department at Carnegie Mellon University; she will be reporting on her research analyzing the intersection between the political blogosphere and the Usenet group alt.politics. She has published work modeling network formation and information diffusion in various conferences. During her graduate studies she has also spent time at PricewaterhouseCoopers working on fraud detection methods and at Microsoft Live Labs studying user behavior and social networks in Usenet. In addition to serious publications she has enjoyed a prolific career in Fake Computer Science Research, authoring such award winning papers as “Data Mining Disasters: A Report” and “Fried Chicken Bucket Processes”. Her favorite memories of her summer in the Pacific Northwest include the cross-country road trip to get there, paragliding, and wandering through downtown Bellingham at 3am on a puzzle scavenger hunt. She occasionally blogs at http://dataphiles.blogspot.com.   LiveLabs – Politics
  • Kathy’s Friend Wheel
  • Discussion Leaders
  • Lecture: From Trent Lott To The Obama Girl (ppt)
  • Small Group Discussion
  • Technology Tutorial (WordPress)
  • Time For Project Work

Recommended For Thought:
Jonathan Haidt on “the difference between conservatives and liberals”: TED Talks (video)
“Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we’re left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most.” Here’s the quiz: YourMorals.org

YouTube Clips

Swift Boat Vets For Truth

FactCheck – Did Kerry “lie” to get his medals?

Obama Girl v. Guiliani Girl

Apple & Obama

Reasons To Vote For & Against John McCain

Opposition Ads, 2008:

Washington – YouChoose08

Small Group Work

  • In groups of two, use the rubric developed in “Explaining The Adoption of Web Campaigning Practice” to analyze a 2008 campaign website such as Obama, McCain, Gregoire or Rossi. (You are not limited to these!)
    See: Web Data On Campaign Websites – WJS
  • Think about a report that you have recently read or written for work. What characteristics made the report useful? What characteristics interfered with its utility? Brainstorm a list of best practices.
  • We will not be meeting together on election evening (Tu 4 Nov). What do you suggest as appropriate alternative assignments that would require approximately four hours to complete?

Student Readings From This Week

  • ChrisBloggers At the Gates: Ned Lamont, Blogs, and the Rise of Insurgent Candidates
  • Katie
  • MargeryDecision 2004: The war for the White House and Pundits in Muckrakers’ Clothing
  • Rubi Decision 2004: The war for the White House and Explaining the Adoption of Web Campaigning Practices

Odds & Ends

Leave a comment


  1. For the week of missing the election we could comprise a report/blog post of the best and worst of the election coverage.

  2. Rubi

     /  October 25, 2008

    I would like to make a short film for election day, I would like to go out and film what is happening out there. I would like to add interviews with people about the voting process, if they found any anomalies. I approve, if someone would like to join me, please let me know. I have a camera and we can get flip cameras from the program. I know how to use Moviemaker and basic Adobe Premiere Elements to put this together as a film.

  3. Tharaa Bayazid

     /  October 25, 2008

    We could watch the election and provide an analysis of how Digital Media is utilized in the election day(assess the effectiveness of Digital Media on the coverage? Or, finding out if there is going to be any online streaming of the election, and how would people interact/comment on the streaming video?

  4. margerynabors

     /  October 26, 2008

    Another option is choosing politicians to follow on twitter the night of the election In the case that not enough twitter, following their blog posts would suffice.

  5. margerynabors

     /  October 26, 2008


  6. rebekahp

     /  October 27, 2008

    We could set up a tweet channel like #DigDem or #Elect. Throughout the evening we could watch various news channels (online and on television) and report voting numbers, etc using twitter. The channel we set up would be a place where reports from different news casts would be compiled and tweeted real time. It would be a good way to compare and contrast what different stations were saying as the evening progresses. We could have a set list of media outlets–half conservative leaning and half liberal leaning.

  7. khall33

     /  October 27, 2008

    I was really surprised about all of the status updates on Facebook during the debate. I’d be interested to compile all of our friends’ status updates from Facebook for the night of the election, and analyze them by party affiliation, content, even boldness. I’m mostly interested in this because Facebook tends to be a place where people are friends with friends from all parts of their life, home, work, friends, parent groups, sports teams, and yet people are comfortable sharing their political opinions openly and overtly in that forum.

  8. MarcP:

    Kathy, I have sent a message via e-mail on the 4 hours that i will use to produce/host an Election Special on crcctv.org and cable channel 22 in Pierce County (Click Network, Comcast) to over 100,000 homes and streamed.

    The Q&A will focus on website use, youth voters, and results for both Pierce County and the national results.

  9. gzliuzw

     /  October 27, 2008

    I would suggest having group meetings respectively, dicussing possible forms for the last week’s presentation. Also, the alternative plan would be digging out most fascinating adoptions of social media tools in the 2008 campaign, and then Sharing with each other through twitter.

  10. gzliuzw

     /  October 27, 2008

    Seems Ruby has an attractive idea of making a film on the election day, and I would like join.

  11. Im down for making a video.

  12. christyluther

     /  October 27, 2008

    I really like all of these ideas! We could also compile an Official UWMCDM Glossary of digital media used on election day 2008, citing examples. I think that would be a neat way to record the technology of the day. And, then we can burry the glossary like a time capsule. (Just joking about the time capsule part, but I think it would be neat to create a resource document that could be a reference tool for people beyond MCDM.)

  13. ijp

     /  October 27, 2008

    I like many of the ideas so far.

    My idea assumes that everyone will be watching election coverage that night. I know I will be.

    We could all watch the television coverage and monitor the coverage online and we could create a wiki or blog of interesting facts about the uses of social/digital media on election day.

    For example, will the election be called for one candidate or the other online first or on TV? WIll Obama’s or McCain’s campaign release a statement of victory or defeat online or offline first? In essence, we could analyze how these events transpire as an election night narrative.

    It just made sense to me since I will be glued to the TV anyway. But I like the movie idea too.

  14. yenching

     /  October 27, 2008

    We can also track a candidate’s page on social networking sites such as Facebook or Myspace to explore their communications between voters and them.

    Another option is that we can put a post on our blog about the election and technology. For example, we can post our thoughts about the electioning machine which is part of the election reformation in US.

  15. Keiichi

     /  October 28, 2008

    It can be interesting if we watch both candidates blogs and face book sites and make a time-line documentation of the communication with the supporters.

  1. Week 5 - Digital Advocacy « Digital Democracy

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