I don’t know exactly how things used to be, as I am 22 years old and was not either around or not paying attention to how exactly things worked until around 2006, when I turned 18. The 2008 elections were the first elections I was able to vote in, and so the idea of elections without social networking via Facebook or texting campaigns is foreign to me. Politicians think that social networks such as Facebook or twitter are now vital to their campaigns; I think (as we discussed in class) that the causality of a twitter account on a successful campaign is at this point just a pipedream, and in some cases where politicians clearly don’t understand the function of these sites, hurts more than it helps.
Twitter is a great utility for politicians to use if they use it correctly. Claire McCaskill, a Senator from Missouri, uses it well; she writes her own posts, she is honest and forthright and she uses Twitter as a way to show her constituents what she is doing as their elected representative. She clearly understands what it is for.
Politicians that use Twitter simply to “keep up with the Jones’” approach to campaigning and have passed it off to interns have often found themselves in trouble (i.e. Scott Walker, Joe Miller, Joe Barton). In order to have any of these “social networks” not be a detriment to a campaign, the candidate must have a good understanding of the network. Otherwise it looks like an empty ploy to win over the youth vote without any understanding of the demographic.