After speaking with my group this past week in class, I found that we all have very diverse ideas about what we may want to do for our projects. I am a Journalism & Media Studies and Political Science double major, so I have decided that I want to work on a project that combines my main interests. After some deliberation, I believe that I would like to focus on how the Republican party has used new media in recent campaigns and to what success.
American political actors and institutions are often slower to adapt to an ever-changing media landscape than the general public. For that reason, it is especially interesting to study which innovations that the party has adopted and why, and also what technology has been largely ignored or left behind. The Republican party is painted by many as the party of “old, white, rich guys” which is relatively untrue, and this image is changing slowly due to the use, especially, of social media and advertising campaigns on YouTube and other platforms.
In my research, I plan to look at what types of technology that the party has embraced in the past in order to analyze why and how they utilize newer forms of media. I will look at the use of Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and personal websites as examples of how technology is used. In addition, I will examine the changing norms of the party in terms of their technology use, and the language that comes along with it.
UPDATE: Here is the email that I sent on Tuesday (Feb. 3) morning:
Article OneTitle: State Parties 2.0: Facebook, Campaigns, and Elections
Reasoning: This article is largely about how state political parties use social media to bolster their images during campaigns. I think that this is a good angle for my research because using the state Republican establishment rather than the national party is a much more manageable amount of research to complete in the allotted time. It also would allow me to focus on New Jersey;s politics and use of social media, which may or may not be different from other states.
Article Two Title: Playing to the Right’s Strengths on the ‘Net
Reasoning: This article discusses problems that occurred during the 2008 Presidential campaign with regards to John McCain’s Internet/social media strategy. It is a good article for my research because it really highlights the way that the Internet factored into a campaign strategy in a major way for the first time in this year. Both the Democrat and Republican parties used digital media to try to get their message across and to target a younger audience whom they hoped would come out and vote. I can look at the way that research was conducted for this article and perhaps model my research on a smaller, state-wide scale.
Article Three Title: Republicans Make Up for Lost Time on Social Media
Reasoning: This article is a good wrap-up of the general feelings about social media use by the Republican party. McCain is used as an example of what not to do in a campaign, especially when Twitter is concerned, and I think that a lot of state party officials have heeded this warning in the following years. This would be a good topic to bring up in an interview setting with someone who is involved in party affairs, or perhaps a scholar at the Eagleton Institute on campus.