A poll of the people most likely to vote in the 2008 election say that the Internet is the best way to find out where a candidate stands on the issues, according to a Burst Media study.
The fact that the Internet topped TV in the minds of voters means that the importance of televised debates could decrease.
eMarketer Senior Analyst Ben Macklin says the Internet is enormously helpful to office seekers.
"If there is one thing advocacy groups, politicians and pollsters require, it is to gauge the views and feelings of the public," says Mr. Macklin. "One of the advantages of the Internet is that it can be very direct, cost-effective and measurable. The Internet is all about the building of communities of like-minded individuals, so it is only natural that political groups should connect and interact with people who may be geographically distant from the action."
Mr. Macklin also says that politicians who address voters and gauge response online are not doing anything incredibly new.
"The direct response to political issues that the Internet can provide harks back to the very origins of democracy in ancient Greece, where the citizens of the day were not only empowered but obliged to participate in the decisions of the city-state," says Mr. Macklin. "Perhaps the Internet can likewise empower the citizenship to participate in decisions that affect them and to give people a real sense that they are being represented."
Half of voters in the Burst study also said they would watch an online video on a presidential candidate’s site.
At the same time, a study by MSHC Partners conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group reports that digital video recorders (DVRs) are being used to avoid televised political communication.
According to the report, as DVR ownership increases, the percentage of political ads skipped rises.
Hal Malchow of MSHC Partners says the consequences for televised political ads are multiple.
"As DVR ownership grows, TV will become less efficient," said Mr. Malchow. "Cable television, with its hundreds of channels, has made it increasingly difficult to reach the entire electorate, compared to the days of dominance by three major networks. Between DVRs and cable television, political ads are losing their punch."
"DVR owners are both tech-savvy and news junkies. To reach these voters, campaigns need to speak to them through multiple mediums such as direct mail and Internet advertising."