John McCain, Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John Edwards, Tommy Thompson, Chris Dodd, Joseph Biden, Mike Huckabee... Election Day 2008 is still more than 20 months away, but the campaign is already in full swing. The Internet is predicted to play a larger role than ever before, and Yahoo! in particular intends to be at the forefront.
In the last presidential campaign, 75 million Americans used the Internet to get news, email people about candidates, and participate directly in the political process (according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project). A little-known governor from Vermont got remarkably far in his long-shot bid thanks to his campaign manager's Net savvy. Bloggers were provided official press passes to the national conventions. Both Senator Kerry and President Bush used email lists as part of their grassroots and fundraising efforts. And even the likes of JibJab illustrated how effective online video could be on the campaign trail.
Fast-forward to today, a time when social media is changing the face of citizen engagement, how news is reported, how people connect with one another, and virtually all expectations of transparency. You can bet that campaigns will adjust their tactics to respond to this growing phenomenon. For example, already six candidates are using Flickr to post photos from their campaign — kissing babies, making speeches, rallying supporters, having quiet moments. We've also seen Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton ask questions on Yahoo! Answers. (Incidentally, the 38,000 responses to Hillary's question on health care helped her beat Oprah Winfrey for most answers to any question.) Campaigns are quickly becoming wise to social media tools, and we intend to lead the way.
At Yahoo! News, we've pulled together an über-site to help you engage in the 2008 campaign. In addition to the latest news videos, headlines, and political commentary, you'll find dedicated pages for each candidate. If you catch a campaign event, upload your photos or video to Flickr, Yahoo! Video or You Witness News — or all three. Feeling like a pundit? Look for a Yahoo! Answers question to weigh in on. Want to find birds of a feather? Join a Yahoo! Group related to your party or candidate. This early version of the site is just a start — tools like MyBlogLog and Upcoming.org will be incorporated soon. Look for it to evolve with even more bells and whistles as we approach game day.
Our goal is to make Yahoo! the town hall for voters across America. We look at it this way: There are red states and blue states, but the 20% of voters in the middle normally decide campaigns. Since red and blue make purple, who better than Yahoo! to help these voters engage and connect with the issues and personalities?
I encourage all of you to not only pay attention, but get involved in this important election. There are more tools to do so than ever before. Help us prove that the Internet has the power to make ours a government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Head of News & Information
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