The Presidential Candidates Sites Have Many Similarities to Each Other

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-09-12 Print this article Print

At one point, when this all started, the Republicans had by far the most innovative and creative site of any political party. They used interactive images and had a well-mapped site with a lot of choices, while the Democrats had a static site that was as boring as Bill Clinton's. That's all changed. Now the Republicans and the Democrats seemed to have chosen the same formula and the same color scheme, although the GOP's site is predominately red, and the Democrats are mostly blue. I wonder if there's a reason for that? It appears that the legendary journalist Tim Russert--who came up with the idea of coloring states--is memorialized in some unexpected ways.

But of course, there's more to the Internet than the basically boring political Web pages. Previously, the idea of raising money using the Web was an innovative first used effectively by Democrat Howard Dean in his ill-fated run for the presidential nomination in 2004. Now, everyone's doing it. The use of the Web to gather supporters' names for subsequent rallies and voting initiatives was something that Kerry's senatorial campaign first used effectively, but now everyone is doing that, too.

So I moved on to examining the social media-something that wasn't around when I wrote my book. First, you can probably guess that both presidential campaigns have a presence on Twitter, as do both candidates. The candidates' wives are there, too. You can get a full dose of politics if you subscribe to either feed, although the amount of actual knowledge you're likely to gain in 140 characters is open to question.

LinkedIn is a little different. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have profiles, and what's there are basically resumes. Obama, for example, lists his current position as "President of the United States." Romney lists his as a candidate for that job. In other words, there's not much here since neither one has anything else posted to their respective profiles.

But there is a difference if you dig deeper. Look for members of Obama's campaign staff, and for the most part, you see a lot of volunteers and junior-level operatives. Obama's senior campaign staff, with an exception or two, isn't there. On the other hand, many of Romney's senior staffers are present on LinkedIn. But does this mean anything?

In reality, the differences are remarkably small, but Romney's campaign staff would appear to be more accessible. You can find them on LinkedIn, more of the senior staff is on Twitter, and there are more ways to ask questions of the campaign on the Web. But whether this translates into real communications is questionable-despite several days of trying, not a soul from either campaign has responded to anything I've sent.

What this means, it seems to me, is that the Internet has become just another pipe through which you run money. Innovation is gone, along with creativity. The candidates pour money into the same ol' Website just like they're pouring money into the same ol' attack ads on television. One has to hope they'll find something new in four years, if only to relieve the boredom.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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