Prior to the UK election communication experts predicted an „internet election“. In the aftermath of the election, varying conclusions on the effect of e-campaigning have been drawn. A review of opinions.
Times: TV-debates were crucial
The voters had not even had the chance to make their vote when the Times delivered its verdict: The TV debates ruled the election campaigns. 140 characters on Twitter were not quite enough to be a key factor, states the Times. Hardly any politician had been able to capitalise on the possibilities offered by the internet. Nevertheless, something was different this time around, probably due to the web: Parties and politicians found it much more difficult to set the agenda. Instead they had to deal with the topics the people forced them to talk about, says the Times.
Guardian: Parties missed their chances
In the Guardian the digital strategist of Obama´s successful presidential campaign, Joe Rospars, expresses his believe that the parties have not been able to use the internet properly. They just changed the battlefield, not the tactics. Rospars points out that some independent organizations have shown how to do it. The initiative „hope not hate“ for instance sought to prevent candidates of the British National Party from winning seats in the parliament. They organized most events via the internet. An example: Several hundred volunteers handed out 100.000 protest newspapers in two suburbs of London. In both election districts the nationalists fell considerably short of winning a mandate. According to Rospars the secret of the initiative´s success was their skill to transport clear instructions in their messages – and not to lose itself in woolly words. In Rospars`opinion they showed the strong leadership the parties did not deliver.
TechPresident: Not enough time?
TechPresident´s Nancy Scola, in response to Rospar´s analysis, identiefies the short period of time left for the partys’ electoral campaign as a key factor for unsuccessful e-campaigning. Wheras Obama had nearly two years to optimize his strategy, in Britain there was hardly one month left between the announcement of the election date and the polling day. Additionally, Scola assumes that Obama´s web-campaign perfectly matched his image, a fact that might have played a vital part in the campaign´s success.
Independent: Tweets of the day
The Independent compares internet and television with the classic poster ad. The results of the web-campaigns may have been disappointing, but nevertheless they spiced up the controversies between the contestants. Furthermore, the newspaper collected the best tweets of the election day. A rather radical message was for instance posted by the journalist Alex Wood: „Remember, everytime someone votes for David Cameron, a puppy dies.“
BBC: Web not ineffective at all
The BBC´s Rory Cellan-Jones firmly believes that the internet played an important role ahead of the election day. Especially young voters got involved with politics thanks to the web. The tie between the election commission and facebook helped to raise the number of first-time voters registering to vote, says Cellan-Jones. And the parties used the web for internal communication and organisation: The extensive usage of e-mail made f2f-staff meetings dispensable.