The Internet Has Changed the Politics of Elections

As Midterm Campaign Norms Erode, Even Debates Are Under Debate

(This story was last updated July 25 at 6:00 p.m. ET. See the new updates in the table below.)

In recent years, as the midterm elections loom, political campaigns have shifted to the Internet, and the debate about elections hasn’t been the same as it has been in the past.

Just as the debates on the campaign trail are starting to feel quaint, so, too, are the norms for the campaign itself.

“We’re still in a phase where campaigns are on Facebook,” said Matthew Lassiter, a Democratic strategist in Maryland who worked on President Obama’s 2012 campaign. “It was always on Facebook, and it still is, and campaigns are still using Facebook as a megaphone. You see the same people campaigning throughout the country.” Facebook and Twitter are also crucial to voters’ attention, he said.

And while the Internet has long been used by campaigns and candidates to reach voters, particularly overseas voters, some argue that it hasn’t always worked well during midterm campaigns.

“The Internet has its place,” said Luntz, the University of Florida political science professor. “But the reality is when it comes to campaigning, it’s a really hard sell to go out and buy all your voters on Facebook and then turn on a campaign on Facebook. I’m not sure that’s going to be a winning model.”

Luntz said that even as the Internet has made campaigns more efficient, it has had a side effect. There’s an increasing acceptance that it’s not enough to say something on a campaign website.

“People are saying enough, I’m going to reach out to people who might not read a newsletter or an email,” he said. “

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