Are we seeing a repeat of the 1960 September 26 Kennedy versus Nixon debate? Back then 70 million U.S. viewers tuned in to watch Senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts and Vice President Richard Nixon in the first-ever televised presidential debate. The majority of people who heard the debates believed Nixon won. The Majority of people who saw the debates believed Kennedy won. This was a new technology that was not well understood. Kennedy’s team knew how to take advantage of the camera to bring out the best in Kennedy.
In 2008 we are seeing a repeat with McCain and Obama and the Internet. One glaring example is YouTube.
On June 19th 2008 if you look for video on Obama you find footage that is likely pro Obama and that casts Obama in a very positive light. Now look for McCain and you are likely to find footage that is not complimentary to McCain. People who are pro Obama seem to be creating much of the McCain footage. In the age of user-generated content the communities that one builds on the Internet become extremely important. Obama seems to have effectively created a very strong Obama community. You see this in Blogs, Video, and other Internet content. McCain’s people on the other hand do not seem to understand the idea of community or the important role it plays. The Internet has gone beyond the days of just fund raising and email get out the vote drives. Building community and controlling ones image with that community is now a fact of life. Obama even controls the negative information about himself. When Obama posted negative questions about himself along with the answers his posting were likely to be the ones returned on an Internet search of those topics. When you combine this with all the content the Obama community produces the likely hood of searching for any topic on Obama and getting material produced by the Obama community is pretty high. Unfortunately for McCain this community is also producing anti-McCain content. At this time it does not appear that McCain has any type of Internet community that is capable of offsetting the Obama community. Nor is it likely that McCain will be able to develop one in time to help him in the general election. The September 26, 1960 debate by itself did not change the election of Kennedy. It is also likely that the Internet community that Obama has formed will not by itself change the coming election. However, if Obama win in 2008, history will have to factor in the impact of the Obama community that was created on the Internet.