Good post today at JP Rangaswami’s Confused of Calcutta. He’s been reading Pew Internet’s latest report on post-election voter engagement (always one reason his excellent blog gets my gratitude, as he pulls out so many great nuggets from Pew Internet and saves me having to read them all! Now, if he’d just stop going on about cricket…).
When people signed up (as they did in their droves) for MyBarackObama.com accounts, they thought they were entering into a relationship with the campaign that would last well beyond the goal of the election. Apparently 62% of Obama voters fully expect to be involved in campaigning to actually deliver his policies (25% of online recruits expecting to be able to keep active online in this way). 46% expect ongoing communications directly from Obama and his team (and 33% of McCain voters expect it from their guy too, showing they, like he, are certainly ‘aware of the internet’). 27% of online Obama voters have been keen enough to follow the transition period online too.
This is extremely positive stuff. The groundswell for change (built largely online) has a chance of becoming something approaching a norm, rather than fading back until the parties need cash again for 2012. It’ll be very interesting to see how the Obama web team respond, and whether they can capitalise on the opportunity this kind of engagement with democracy might bring.
What would a mass political movement of diverse online activists who don’t really see themselves as being a party look like and be capable of, and how will it relate to the party that created it? It’s a broad church of people who want to contribute in their own way and with their own voice, not necessarily something that fits a tightly controlled Labour Supporters Network style of organisation. Can a traditional political party handle this, and will it change the party itself?
And how will this new willingness of voters to follow and interact with politics be responded to by politicians once the motivational campaign slogans start to get bogged down in the process and compromises of day to day politics?