FROM: Kim Alexander
DATE: April 26, 1999
RE: Headlines Extra -- Internet & Politics (fwd)

Hi Folks,

I'm forwarding to you a recent newsletter from the Benton Foundation, featuring news highlights on Internet & Politics activities. As you'll see below, it includes items about Jesse Ventura, several presidential candidates, and a summary of the California Journal's March 1999 profile on my work with the California Voter Foundation.

I know that many CVF-NEWS subscribers already receive the Benton Foundation's excellent daily news summaries highlighting stories from several major newspapers about communications, technology & politics -- for those of you who aren't yet signed up for this wonderful and free daily email bulletin, instructions are at the bottom of this message.



Forwarded message
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 10:49:30 -0400
From: Kevin Taglang <kevint@BENTON.ORG>
Subject: Headlines Extra -- Internet & Politics

In March, Steve Forbes chose to use the Internet as the venue to declare hiscandidacy for President: "I'm going to run the first full-scale presidential campaign in American history on the Internet." The 2000 election has begun and could be the first test of how effective the Internet can be as a political tool.

Just a few years ago, the Web was little more than an electronic billboard for candidates to provide one-way information for journalists, potential volunteers, and voters. In the new world of "cyberpolitics," the Web is becoming a multipurpose tool to raise funds, recruit and organize volunteers, distribute ads, and hold online chats. Eventually, online voting might even be implemented as way to increase voter participation.

Many will be watching to see what works and what doesn't online -- and who really benefits. This week's Extra summaries recent coverage of politics online.

Headlines Extra -- Internet & Politics 4/22/99

Untangled Web: Internet Usage During The 1998 Election (Political Science and Politics)

Ventura activates his online supporters via JesseNet (StarTribune)
Internet Plays Role In Campaigns (CNN)
Israeli Candidates Seek Votes In Cyberspace (SJ Merc)
Giuliani Launches Anti-Hillary Web Site (Nado)
Electronic Electioneering, Presidential Wannabes Take Their Campaigns to the Internet (San Fran Chr)

Online Political Ads a $20 M Hit? (ZDNet)

Kim Alexander and The California Voter Foundation (California Journal)
Citizens Open Drive To Recall Mayor (Toledo Blade)

Quayle, Kasich, Bush: Y O Y R L of M Using 2K? (WP)


Issue: Campaign Finance
The use of the Internet for soliciting campaign contributions is examined by looking at the Internet sites used by Senate and House candidates during 1998 elections. The sites were evaluated based on their accessibility and their use of the site to gather funds. In 1998, 92 out of 133 candidates had an operating Web site. Contrary to the popular notion that Republicans are better organized and more technology savvy, 71% of Democrats were on the Web, while 68.2% of Republicans were. After the election, the authors coded candidates with Web sites as winners or losers and found that whether or not they had a Web site did not effect the outcome of the election. However, the Internet did have an effect on how the campaign was run, including fundraising, management and internal communications.

73% of Web sites were used to solicit campaign contributions through the following methods: 1) inviting contributions through regular mail, 2) inviting the user to download and print a form to send through the mail, 3) inviting the donor to pledge support, and 4) encouraging the site visitors to contribute online. 54% of the sites used the first method. The problem with this method is that donors may not provide legally required information when they send in their checks (employer and occupation information) and the check is not actually cleared until weeks after the donor visited the site. The second method of inviting the donor to print out a form and send in a donation solves the problem of missing information, but delay in processing the check still remains. Only 32.8% of campaigns used this method. Nearly half of the candidates solicited pledges from visitors to their sites. Although the candidate must estimate the amount of money they will have to work with, based on the pledge, they collect important information. The fourth method -- soliciting funds online -- is considered the best by the authors, but was used only 30% of the time (only 13 Web sites). These candidates used secure socket layer (SSL) -- software developed for e-commerce. They were able to keep a more accurate account of funds obtained and donors had the assurance of the extra screen that pops up indicating a secure transaction.

All candidates using Web sites increase the potential for facilitating illegal contributions. The use of methods developed for commercial use do not differentiate between types of credit cards -- personal or corporate. A smart campaign will require that the donor state whether the credit card is for personal use or not.

Overall, the amount of money raised online is small compared with overall money raised. For example, the popular press claimed that Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) raised $25,000 online whereas her opponent Matt Fong (R-CA) raised about $30,000. If accurate, this accounts for only 1% of total money raised in the race.

In order to reap the benefits of the technology, methods need to be developed with the political environment in mind, not simply adapted from commercial uses. The Internet offers several ways to improve campaigns in order to make them more accurate, legal and democratic. In addition, the Internet may change the way candidates think about communities in terms of geography. For example, the links a Republican candidate may have to the Christian coalition illustrates how interest groups on the Internet make up "virtual political communities." [SOURCE: Political Science & Politics, March 1999; AUTHOR: David A. Dulio, Donald L. Goff & James A. Thurber]


Issue: Online Activism
Much has been written about Gov Jesse Ventura's (RP-MN) use of the Internet during his election campaign. The Governor is now using the Internet to reach his network of supports and activate them concerning policy. Gov Ventura sent email to supporters recently asking them to contact two key legislators and to express support for a light-rail initiative: "Be respectful with your e-mail messages and phone calls," Gov Ventura said in his first-ever e-mail call to action as governor. "We don't have to storm their offices with torches and pitchforks just yet. Simply advise these legislative leaders that you support the [administration's] light-rail initiative, and urge them to do the same." Phil Madsen manages the JesseNet email list: "It's not the ideal issue for a JesseNet mobilization. It's complex, and it's long-term. It's local. But it's still important, and that's why we went with it."The office of one of the legislators reported receiving 300 email messages on the issue. [SOURCE: MN StarTribune, AUTHOR: Robert Whereatt, Bill McAuliffe and Patricia Lopez Baden] (

Issue: Campaigns
Candidates increasingly look to reach voters through the Internet. Presidential hopefuls are using Web sites to recruit and organize volunteers, solicit donations and discuss issues more than they did in the 1996 campaign, said J. Lynn Reed, a campaign consultant for former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ). Bradley's campaign recently used a list of thousands who signed up online in his support to send e-mail to boost attendance at an event for the Democratic contender. Ms. Reed expects, as Election Day approaches, more undecided voters will turn to Web sites for candidates' positions. D. Todd Harris, press secretary for Rep. John Kasich's campaign, said, "There's a huge difference between the person who actively seeks out a political Web page versus the person who sits on their couch and watches TV and happens to see a political ad." Political science professor John Camobreco said cyberspace encounters cannot replace face-to-face interaction. He also points out that not everybody has access to the Internet yet. [SOURCE: CNN Interactive, AUTHOR: Associated Press] (

Issue: Campaigns
With an election for Israeli prime minister scheduled May 17, the candidates of the major parties are getting state-mandated commercial time on television every night of the week. Television has served as the dominant medium for what Israelis call "election propaganda." For this election the power of the Internet is being unleashed. Hitting the headlines was a Web site sponsored by the Labour Party that showed a doctored nude photo of the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While it was withdrawn and prompted an apology, it was also wildly popular while it was available. Israeli elections had moved into cyberspace. "There are about a half a million Internet users in Israel, about 15% of the electorate. It's a segment we cannot ignore," said Ilan Guy, who runs a Web site for a pro-Labor group. The Labour Party Web site supports their candidate, Ehud Barak, with biographical information, pictures and the party's platform in the Hebrew language. The wildcard in the prime ministerial race is the Center Party with its candidate, former defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai. Their Web site, also in Hebrew, includes a biography and a manifesto on unity at home and peace efforts with the Arabs. After Mordechai called Netanyahu a "liar" on a televised debate, the Likud Party responded by putting the question, "Is Bibi a liar?" on its Web page and offering its response. The Likud pages also have one key feature that Labour cannot yet claim as its own. It is a link to the official Internet site of the Office of the Prime Minister. [SOURCE: San Jose Mercury News, AUTHOR: Joseph Heller (Reuters)] (

Issue: Internet & Campaigns
Before either first lady Hillary Clinton (D) or New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R) have even decided whether they will run for the soon to be vacated Senate seat in their state, pro-Giuliani forces have already launched an anti-Clinton Web site. The HillaryNo.Com site -- which argues that Hillary Clinton lacks sufficient experience to be a Senator -- opens with this message: "U.S. Senate: For Proven Leaders, Not a Proving Ground." Within the first few days of its launch, the anti-Hillary site had generated more than 1,000 volunteers for the Mayor's yet unconfirmed candidacy. "The last Web site that was as active was the Victoria Secrets Web site," said Mayor Giuliani. New York Democratic Chairwoman Judith Hope said "the tone of the Web site matches the direction of the mayor's approval ratings -- negative, negative, negative." [SOURCE: Nando Media 30 March, AUTHOR: Marc Humbert] (,2294,33102-53262-394938-0,00.html) See also: RUDY SETS SITE ON WEB Launch of [SOURCE: New York Daily News 15 April, AUTHOR: ] (

Issue: Politics/Internet
While we have 17 months until the 2000 election, virtually all of the declared and potential presidential candidates have erected Web sites. On these political Web sites candidates can offer spin control for their campaigns, attract voters and volunteer campaign workers, and help collect money. The Web sites also offer another advantage: They are relatively cheap to build and maintain.

Staff writer Jon Swartz and the San Francisco Chronicle "judged each home page on several factors, including ease of use, design, use of technology and communications capabilities (response to e-mail)." In addition, Swartz consulted political experts to get their opinions and then rated the sites based on a scale 1 (awful) to 5 (superb).

VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (D-TN): The expected Democratic presidential nominee had not completed his Web site by the time of the article. Rating: Not available. [On April 6 Vice President Gore opened his site at ( The site allows visitors to volunteer and make contributions online, is available in Spanish, has links to speeches, news updates and policy positions, and a "Town Hall" section that allows citizens to ask VP Gore questions.]

GOV GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX) at ( Bush, the current front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, is among the first politicians to set up a Web site to accept political contributions. Bush's site deserves kudos for being bilingual. Gov Bush also earns high marks for his site's use of video-streaming technology. However, the site has few graphics, charts or photos to relieve the tedium of text. Rating: 4.

STEVE FORBES (R) at ( Forbes became the first person to announce his candidacy on his own Web site, complete with audio address. The Republican publisher excels with a superior issue statement section that invites feedback. Rating: 5.

ELIZABETH DOLE (R) at ( Mrs. Dole's Web site extensively uses video-streaming technology, including her presidential announcement. Slick and smart, the visually pleasing site reaches out to computer users and isn't afraid to flaunt technology. Rating: 4 1/2.

FORMER SEN BILL BRADLEY (D-NJ) at ( The former Democratic senator has used the Internet effectively to attract 11,000 volunteers, according to campaign organizers. The downside is that Bradley's site is text-heavy. Rating: 3.

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DAN QUAYLE (R-IN) at ( "What passes for multimedia are a series of mug shots of the Republican. Compounding matters, the electronic fund-raising feature is difficult to dig up and there is no video streaming." However, the Quayle site includes his daily schedule of speeches and appearances. Rating: 1/2.

SEN JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ) at ( The Republican senator does a good job of layout for phone and e-mail information, for his stance on issues, and for biographical tidbits. The site is one of the easiest to navigate and interact with. Rating: 3 1/2.

[SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle (D1 on 3/27), AUTHOR: Jon Swartz] (


Issue: Advertising
With nearly a year and half until the 2000 presidential elections, candidates have already begun to stake out their presence on the Internet. John Philips, president of Aristotle, a political software company, said that presidential candidates have already begun buying Internet banner ads from his company's new service that delivers targeted political ads online. Phillips predicts that Internet spending will reach "somewhere in the $18-20 million range" this election cycle. Much of Internet advertising's appeal is in the sophisticated targeting that is possible with the medium. Aristotle offers 30 different ways to differentiate audiences - including states, Zip code, party affiliation, and congressional district. "The Internet is the most economic system of campaigning ever, Period," says Jay MacAniff, a San Francisco-based political consultant. [SOURCE: ZDNET 13 April, AUTHOR: Joel Deane] (,4586,2240941,00.html)


Issue: Campaign Finance
The California Voter Foundation offers an Internet voter guide, (, providing "basic political intelligence, including candidate speeches, biographies, campaign promises, as well as information on political spending -- information that once never made it outside the state capitol. In 1994 Kim Alexander launched the first Internet voter guide in California. The first guide received 36,000 "page visits." She created the guide on her own from her apartment. She ran around campaign offices collecting speeches, press releases, endorsement lists and biographies. Pacific Bell supplied the Internet service that she used to link her borrowed computer. After the first guide's success, she wrote letters to California corporations to keep the foundation going, which was well received.

The California Voter Foundation's mission in education voters was stepped up in 1997 with the passing of a law requiring Internet disclosure of all state campaign and lobbying finance. In 1996 Alexander broke new ground by posting on the Internet finance reports on late contributions. Alexander and staff emailed reporters information gathered from the Secretary of State's office.

Part of her motivation for educating voters on campaign spending stems from her experience as a volunteer in a 1988 campaign. She watched the candidate "dialing for dollars and hating it" lose to the incumbent. She learned this lesson about money and politics: "I had come to see money in politics as something like an air bubble underneath the carpet; if you step on it in one place, it just pops up somewhere else."

Alexander says she tries not to compete with the information already being provided by the Secretary of State's Office. In 1998 the state office reported on 16 candidates who volunteered to file electronically. The California Voter Foundation online includes a guide to the California Legislature, links to databases, as well as "Digital Sunlight" -- a feature designed to promote further campaign finance disclosure. The Foundation has raised $600,000 for the project and now accepts charter members, "like public broadcasting," Alexander said. She is hopeful about the future of the Internet and democracy: "Today's children growing up will expect political information on the Net. The Internet is the right tool to forge the more informed electorate that the country needs and needs soon." [SOURCE: California Journal, March 1, 1999; AUTHOR: Max Vanzi]

Issue: Politics A Toledo (OH) group is using cyberspace for promotion in its high-tech effort to recall Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner from office. The group, which has taken the name, has a namesake Web site outlining its grievances with the mayor and soliciting signatures. Backers of the recall effort must collect 22,929 valid signatures from registered city voters by July 10. (The signatures represent 25% of those who cast ballots for mayor in the 1997 municipal election.) This recall effort is the second targeting Mayor Finkbeiner. In 1995, a disorganized effort led by city employee Charline Tarpy garnered a few hundred signatures. Trey Rust, marketing director for PoliticsOnline, a company specializing in computer politics, said the use of a Web site as the recall group's namesake is "certainly an interesting idea. This is the first site I ever heard of for combining the new way and the old way of circulating petitions. Without a large budget, they are able to get their message out." [SOURCE: Toledo Blade, AUTHOR: Fritz Wenzel] (


Issue: Politics
The Y2K thing has gotten into the run for the presidency in 2000. Politicians apparently don't realize that the acronym is for a PROBLEM and are co-opting it for themselves. Last week Dan Quayle's supporters chanted "Q2K! Q2K! Q2K!" at his announcement that he would run. Presidential candidate John Kasich (R-OH) is using K2K at his Web site ( For Texas Governor George W. Bush, the accent is on the "W." Bumper stickers are showing up with "W2K." Libertarian candidate Harry Browne, calls his site "M2K." (The "M" is for "momentum.) Vice President Al Gore, the guy who said he invented the Internet, has not jumped on the "2K" bandwagon, perhaps because the Y2K problem could bite him if it turns out to be a big problem. "To me, Y2K is a sign of so much that is wrong with our society. Come to think of it, Y2K isn't a bad metaphor for American politics after all," Schwartz concludes. [SOURCE: Washington Post (F26 on 4/19), AUTHOR: John Schwartz (]


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