Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Political Science

First Advisor

Richard Forgette

Relational Format



For this study, the methods and techniques employed by internet campaign managers and major online interest groups from 1996 to 2008 were studied. Additionally, for the 60 days leading up to the 2008 presidential election, e-mail and online newsletter communication disseminated to supporters from the major presidential parties, candidates, and interest groups were tracked and analyzed. Since the 1996 presidential election, presidential candidates have increasingly used the internet to interact with supporters. This study examines the evolution of this relatively recent phenomenon and theorizes about its potential effects on democratic participation. Specifically, this paper argues that although the modem internet campaign has provided many new outlets to inform voters about policy issues and encourage deliberation, the internet campaign has evolved into a tool largely promoting rote participatory democracy. Online campaigns have less interest in discussing issues, but instead exist as method for mass organization of like-minded individuals. Thus, this characteristic of the modem internet campaign could encourage polarization in voter attitudes.

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