October 27, 2004 10:36 AM PDT
As election nears, Web's grass roots still growing
The president's GeorgeWBush.com site and his rival's JohnKerry.com have undergone almost daily updates throughout the campaign, underscoring both teams' increased emphasis on the Internet. Coming down to the wire, the sites appear to be taking somewhat different paths in terms of spin, but based on the volume of new content alone, it's clear both candidates have embraced the medium.
With just one week to go until the Nov. 2 general election, the Bush site offered an array of anti-Kerry content on Tuesday, while the Kerry site remained centered more squarely on the candidate's own message.
The current presidential campaigns have used the Web more--and more effectively--than previous campaigns to communicate with voters and marshal support.
The candidates' e-campaigns are wrapping up, but not before the Web leaves an indelible mark on the changing face of modern elections.
Among the features on GeorgeWBush.com was a checklist of accusations against Kerry and his "liberal allies in Congress," along with an essay dubbed "John Kerry: The raw deal," and a gas tax calculator meant to provide financial estimates of how a Kerry win could hit drivers' pockets. The Kerry site took a more positive stance, leading with an essay on Kerry's pulpit issues, titled "A fresh start for America." However, the Democrat didn't completely avoid taking shots at his Republican rivals, posting one piece dubbed "Bush-Cheney--Wrong for America."
The leaders of both candidates' sites recently expressed their gratification at how well their respective Web campaigns have evolved, and the level at which their efforts have been tied into the larger campaign push.
"We've been completely integrated with the rest of the campaign all along, and worked very closely with our communications and political strategy shops," said Chuck DeFeo, eCampaign Manager for the Bush-Cheney effort. "As the campaign comes to a finish, we know that our job is only becoming more important by the day."
Josh Ross, director of Internet strategy for the Democratic ticket, voiced similar sentiments.
"The buy-in has been tremendous, from having Web strategy people like myself on the senior staff of the campaign from the beginning, to recognizing the importance of the Web site as a tool for building grassroots support," he said. "The 2004 campaign has looked at online strategy more than ever before."
The daily grind
Throughout the campaign, both sites have displayed impressive dexterity in terms of adding new content and matching each other's moves. The sites have often displayed similarly themed content on the same days, showing that the online campaigns have kept an eye on each other. And while neither has more than static plans for what will
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