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Social media and political change - Rachel Gibson

Social media and political change - Rachel Gibson



Academic-practitioner knowledge exchange presentation by Rachel Gibson of Manchester University, from the 2012 eCampaigning Forum.

Academic-practitioner knowledge exchange presentation by Rachel Gibson of Manchester University, from the 2012 eCampaigning Forum.



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  • To add: Slide 24 – note on contact from BES 2005. Screenshots for Aus Labour and Liberals Figures on Aus CIC Labour and Liberals AES contact 2004 – 2007 – 2010 Cross party Figures on US contact 2008 compared to 2004 and 2000 ANES 2004 The survey contained the two questions typical of surveys after 1994: Qu 1: As you know, the political parties try to talk to as many people as they can to get them to vote for their candidate. Did anyone from one of the political parties call you up or come around and talk to you about the campaign this year? 1. Yes 5. No Qu 2: If yes, which party was that?1. Democrats 5. Republicans 6. Both 7. Other Results from the 2004 ANES showed that overall 43.9% reported that they were contacted by one of the parties in that year’s campaign, 56.1% said no. By party this  broke down into Rep 55.6%; Dem 48.1%; Ind 43.6%; other (v small N) 55.0 %; No pref 31.1%   ANES 2008 The weighted data from the 2008 ANES showed that overall the amount of people contacted remained stable at 43.4% reporting that a candidate or party contacted them during this year’s campaign. The breakdown by party revealed the Democrats as most active (40.7%) although the Republicans contact appeared to slip quite sharply (21.9%.) Those receiving contact from both parties stood at 36%. Other (1.1%)   Party id? The appendix tables are good to have but see specific email for query on consistency with reported figures here.
  • I exaggerate the dullness perhaps. Mastery of tech innovations takes some time. Those skilful at using TV and arrival of media handlers for politicians arguably 2 decades after TV first went ‘mass’ – didn’t happen overnight. So why expect internet to be any different? And partic why look to parties and established govt bodies to be leading the charge on innovation. Have much to lose if it goes wrong – particularly in these days of negative campaigning and opposition research. Certainly not all of politics was awash with such inertia and caution – all know the stories about Jessie Ventura, Zapatistas in Mexico, and of course dizzying success of President Roh in S Korea in using internet & Web, and also the adeptness and enthusiasm of far right parties the medium. But can argue that for most established actors were cautious and slow on the uptake. Can argue that perhaps they were right to wait…
  • Dean campaign ‘started from nowhere, raised record sums of money, involved record numbers of people, and made its candidate a frontrunner in the polls…’ More than 600k ‘joined the campaign’, and ‘untold percentage of them were out in the world, stumping hard for the candidate, producing materials, holding meetings and rallies – with less direct guidance from the top than perhaps any campaign in the country’s history. More than one volunteer told me the campaign was less a bandwagon than a runaway train. ’ July 23 2003 BlogForAmerica launched ‘Bringing out the Bat’ idea in a post – challenge to raise more $ than VP Cheney at 2k plate dinner foll week in S Carolina. Load up on site on same day and then see if could raise same amount in one day via the people. By sat $82,260.28 and 1 hr before Monday passed 250k – final tally gone over $508,540.31 contributed by 9,601 – avg of $52.97. The propelling of the effort came from the blog posts. When Kerry won nomination, ‘the mainstream press predictably compared the Dean campaign to the dot-com bubble.’ Quotes Trippi Feb 11 2004 Keynote address to Digital Democracy Teach-In – opened the O’Reilly Emerging Technolgy Conference which resulted from 2003 Open Source Convention. Trippi noted the Dean campaign was far from the ‘dot.com crash’ it was the ‘dot.com miracle’. Starts on Jan31 2006 with 7 staff, $157k, 432 known supporters nationally. Moved to $45m. Marked end of an era of campaigns run and covered exclusively by professionals, as Kennedy Nixon debate had done. Set up era of one-way comm. tool where money dominated process and voters removed. All about big donations and buying air time.
  • Stats from 2005 not directly comparable but show for telephone

Social media and political change - Rachel Gibson Social media and political change - Rachel Gibson Presentation Transcript

  • Social Media and the Rise of ‘Citizen- Initiated’ Campaigning eCampaigning Forum St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford March 21-22, 2012 Professor Rachel Gibson, Institute for Social Change, University of Manchester http://www.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/socialchange/
  • Political Campaigns Pre-Web: Phase IEarly 20th century through to 2nd World War:• Direct• Localised• Face-to-face/‘live’ quality
  • Rallies & Marches
  • Parties
  • Newsletters & Pamphlets
  • Phase 2: WW2 through to 1980sSeeds of change:1930s FDR’s Fireside ChatsIndirect / mediatedNationalDefining Moment JFK vs Nixon 1960 1st Televised Presidential DebatePersonality rather than party-basedNegative ‘Daisy Girl’ Ad LBJParties lost their supremacy
  • Phase 3: 1980s - presentNew Style of Campaigning Identified• ‘Americanised’ ‘Modernized’ ‘PostModern’ ‘Post- fordist’ ‘Stage III’ ‘Professionalised’ ‘Political Marketing’ (Denver & Hands; Farrell & Webb; Norris; Plasse; Wring; Lees-Marshment)Key Traits• New tools – computerized databases, direct mail, telemarketing, focus groups, targeted polling and tv advertising, internet.• Relationship to voters – consumers to be persuaded.• Campaign style – personalized around leaders, permanent, individualized, marketed/targeted, professionalised and scientific.• Organization – central HQ plus outside consultants. Little role for the grassroots
  • Where does the web fit in?Hypothesis 1: Increases trends for micro-targeting, need for consultants & professionals, centralizes power within technocratic elite. Increases top- down approach with templates for local campaigns. Campaigns become more ‘virtual’ and synthetic.Hypothesis 2: Increases opportunities for citizen involvement in campaigns, devolves power in parties and makes them more networked (like issue/ protest organizations), increases contacting/mobilization of voters, reconnects parties with their local civic roots.
  • Initial efforts – somewhat disappointing!
  • Not just labour…
  • Over the border things proved a bit more exciting…
  • Then came Web 2.0 or ‘social media’...2004 U.S. Presidential Race and rise (and fall) of Howard Dean• Blog for America, Meetups, Baseball Bat fundraiser, DDF2008 Victory of Barack Obama – his ‘MyBO’ site marked a key shift in established parties/campaigns use of digital technology ● Gave rise to ‘citizen-initiated campaigning’ - where ordinary citizens (not members/official staff) use digital tools to undertake key campaign tasks and so ‘co-produce or manage’ the election effort, at least at the local level. ● 15 m members by June 2008 ● Does allow for central coordination and monitoring but extensive tactical autonomy for volunteers ● Testimonies of those involved indicate its ‘transformative’ potential. Creation of ‘social capital’ (Putnam, 2000)
  • ‘Obama’s unprecedented online success guarantees that there’s not a single campaign in 2012, Democrat or Republican, that won’t place the Web at the core of its operation. The floodgates are open. This doesn’t mean just hiring Web developers, bloggers, videographers – the works. It also means using the Internet to invite people into the process, giving them something to work for, offering them a stake in victory or defeat. …this new dynamic will transform the way campaigns are run – and, beyond that, the way the winning candidate governs. Fundamentally, all of this is redefining our relationship with our politics. ‘Politics is No Longer Local. Its Viral’ Jose Antonio Vargas, The Washington Post December 28 2008: B01
  • Everyone who goes out canvassing comes back with at least one story of someone they impacted. The team leaders are trained to give people time to tell those stories, and so everyone gets a sense of progress and they learn from each other how to be more effective next time. That’s a totally different picture than what I saw in scores of Kerry offices in 2004: crowds of canvassers receiving minimal instruction before being sent to an unfamiliar neighborhood and rarely getting the chance to debrief with others….At the end of my own neighborhood team meeting in Westport, Kansas City, my team leader Jennifer Robinson, totally unprompted, told me: “I’m a different person than I was six weeks ago… now I’m really asking how can I be most effective in my community? I’ve realized that these things I’ve been doing as a volunteer organizer – well I’m really good at them, I have a passion for this. I want to continue to find ways to actively make this place, my community, a better place. …I’m asking now: Can I look for permanent work as an organizer in service of my community? …before the campaign it never occurred to me that I could even ask that question….” Zack Exley ‘The New Organizers’ The Huffington Post October 8th 2008
  • Evidence from Project CODE – Comparing Online Democracy and Elections www.projectcode.net(1) Development of the Citizen Initiated Campaign Index (CIC)Scale that measures extent of citizen involvement in 5 core tasks using internet technology:3. Community building/Social networking4. Resource generation5. Get out the vote – voter mobilization6. Message development7. Message disseminationCases for analysis: UK GE 2010 ; Australia 2010; US Pres 2012 France Pres 2012
  • Measuring 5 Functions of Web ActionCommunity BuildingSetup profile Sites External Message createPhoto Mobilization Policy emailBiography GOTV offline fwd/customizeWhy joined Access phonebank Sign up for f2f Poster/leafletSetup/join Groups canvassing reate/customizeSetup Blog Sign up to discuss Manifesto input/feedbackSetup Wiki with f&fEmail/msg system Leaflets download Message distributeExternally promote Externally promote Web banners/ads d-loadprofile event Posters/leaflets d-loadSubtotal (additive GOTV online Send email Email/share policy docs0-9) Post to FaceBook RSS feed to website Post to Twitter Share blog posts ext.Internal GOTV i-phone app Link to SNS profileMobilization Elite Mobilization Link to Twitter accountPersonal Email forward to Import email contactsfundraising MP/newspp Subtotal (additive 0-11)Promote membership Start e-petitionSign up as local Subtotal (additiveorganiser 0-11)Sign up ascandidateOrganize / addeventVote leaders toattend eventsSubtotal (additive0-6)
  • Figure 1: Citizen -initiated Campaigning Emphasis by Party BNP SNP Community Membnet Intra -mob GOTV Msg production My Cons LDA 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
  • Conclusions so far...• Political institutions matter: CIC performance – US (Hi) UK (Med) AUS (Low)• Party outloook size and resources matter – major parties, mainstream left and resource ‘poor’• No evidence so far that increases overall amount of voter contact. ● BES statistics show stable level of contact 2005 to 2010 ● Across parties 2010 rates of online contact low but Conservatives highest (2.1%) followed by Labour and LibDems
  • Expectations were high:Howard Rheingold (1993) ‘The Virtual Community’…the future of the Net is connected to the future of community, democracy, education, science and intellectual life… The political significance of CMC lies in its capacity to challenge the existing political hieararchy’s monopoly on powerful commercial media, and perhaps thus revitalise citizen-based democracy.Nicholas Negroponte (1995) ‘Being Digital’…As we interconnect ourselves, many of the values of a nation state will give way to those of both larger and smaller electronic communities. [there is] …A decentralized mindset growing in our society, driven by young citizenry in the digital world. The traditional centralist view of life will become a thing of the past.Esther Dyson (1998) ‘Release 2.1: a design for living in the digital age’…For me the great hope of the Net is that more and more people will be led to get involved with it, and that using it will change their overall experience of life. …The Internet is a powerful lever for people to use to accomplish their own goals in collaboration with other people. Its more than a source of information, it’s a way for people to organise themselves. It gives them power for themselves. Rather than over others.