Social Sites Better for Dems?

Are social networking sites more effective for the left than the right? There’s a lot of chatter about politicians using sites like MySpace and Facebook as part of their online campaign efforts. After a morning event on political advertising held by the Ad Club last week, I spoke with Mike Turk, former e-campaign director for the Bush/Cheney ’04 presidential campaign about this (he’s now with the National Cable and Telecommunications Association).

The way he sees it: if you’re a Republican, don’t bother with the MySpace profile. Social networking sites, he said, “have a limited amount of effect because of who’s there.” According to site demographic info he’s seen, Turk thinks sites with more social features attract democrats, while sites like Amazon, Ebay and financial sites such as ETrade draw a more right-leaning crowd.

I asked Michael Bassik of D.C. political consulting outfit MSHC Partners what he thought. He responded via e-mail:

In reality, there are not many differences between what Republicans and Democrats are doing online…. Many campaigns now recognize the importance of social networking and user-generated content sites like MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube, and have begun to include them in their online communication strategies. It’s difficult to measure the impact these sites will have on Election Day, but they’re a great way to stay in touch with one’s natural base — especially among younger demographics. An average supporter might feel compelled to visit their favorite candidate’s website once in a while, but you can bet that they’re checking their MySpace and Facebook pages every single day. By bringing the content to supporters on the sites they use most instead of requiring supporters to come to them, it just means that more voters will interact with more political content. It’s a win-win for democracy.”

I wrote a piece on political candidates managing the effects of CGM back in June that touches on similar issues.

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