[FOUNTAIN]New-era races driven by the digital mediaIt’s always an election season somewhere in the world. And election outcomes have always been swayed by electioneering storms, organizations and money. Campaign managers have devised various techniques to utilize these three elements more effectively and more widely. Karl Rove, Dick Morris, and Bob Shrum were master spin doctors whose influence became as crucial as the candidates themselves during campaign periods. Campaign strategies developed in the United States became international phenomena as other countries began to follow the American-style fund- raising and media-oriented campaign tactics. As far as fund-raising is concerned, the Republican Party has traditionally overwhelmed the Democratic Party, thanks to huge donations from interest groups in the arms and military supply industries. All sides invested a large portion of their funds in television campaign ads.
With the presidential election approaching in November, the Bush-Cheney team has raised nearly $150 million. The campaign team has allotted $65 million to a political ad campaign. If the White House were to continue the campaign at this pace, they will have spent a staggering amount of money by November.
Society has already entered a new digital era. So how long can the analog dynamics of television ads, fund-raising and organized election campaigns from the 20th century remain viable? In fact, television has been considered to be the most effective tool in aggressive election campaigns in the past. But the Internet emerged as a very effective medium for political propaganda. The Internet outdoes the speed and volume of the information traffic of television, radio and print materials at a lower cost. The power of the Internet has already been proven in elections in Korea and Taiwan.
But the United States found information technology useful in election campaigns as well. The Democratic Party used the Internet to attack and defeat Anthony Raimondo, whom President George W. Bush wanted to appoint to a U.S. Commerce Department post. Fund-raising methods are changing as well. Howard Dean raised $40 million on the Internet for his primary race, and Senator John Kerry raised $10 million online. Using new campaign strategies is not everything. But the change has already begun.
by Kim Seok-hwan
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.