Twitter and Democracy

Posted: October 26, 2008 in 2008 Elections
Tags: , , ,

Republican media consultant Mark McKinnon has this interesting post on the role of Twitter in democracy. He makes the following point:

People are listening to and analyzing every single word that John McCain and Barack Obama say, so the campaigns don’t necessarily need another channel for communicating to the public. But people are also paying attention to which campaigns and politicians are actually listening to the people as well, and it may be that the true value of Twitter for political campaigns is in listening more than talking. Twitter is more than just a large, unorganized focus group; it is a link to real-time constituent consciousness.

My sense is that this is what the role of the blogs are, arguably more so for the Democrats than the Republicans, but that could change after this election. But by its brief and concise nature, Twitter can’t be as cerebral or detailed or well-written as some of the leading blogs on the right, left and center are. It’s a fantastic open source conversation and generator for tips and story ideas for the press.

McKinnon’s focus group analogy is accurate, but even the fastest reader can have a hard time trying to keep up with the breakneck speed that Twitter posts are generated on their election channel, especially on a busy news day. I’ll respectfully disagree with him when he says Twitter might have a bigger impact on the political landscape in the future than blogging.

Hat tip to Jon Henke at the Next Right, who shrewdly points out the three benefits of campaigns listening instead of just telling, an analysis I agree with.

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