Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age, Jennifer Stromer-Galley

Reviewed by Kathleen Knight



There are good reasons to have this book on your shelf. In fact, after my first reading, I ordered it for my seminar on mass media and politics. One can look to the meticulous historical coverage of the development of Internet cam­paigns for the presidency from 1996 to 2012 or admire the prodigious effort at organization that makes the history pleasant to read. Or one can consider the thoughtful exposition of the role of digital communication technology in the potential expansion of democracy and participation. Jennifer Stromer-Galley, while admitting that she is generally cynical on the issue of whether the Internet will strengthen democracy, points to the establishment of a new “two-step flow” of political communications, whereby “super-supporters” are provided with the online materials necessary to activate their friends and associates through social media.

Stromer-Galley highlights the dilemma of participatory democracy within the context of a well-disciplined online campaign. To use all of the interactive capability of the Internet is to try to manage chaos, as strong supporters are prone to go off on their own, producing online ads, videos, and parodies that are inconsistent with the image the candidate is trying to project. These efforts can sometimes be beneficial, as in Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. However, in seeking

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