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The Internet and Elections

Well, Canada was thrown into a election on Friday and our Queen approved an election date of May 2nd. W00t! I love politics and elections. (For my American friends, our federal elections must happen every 5 years but the timing is up to parliament who can vote non-confidence in the government [which is what happened this time] or the Prime Minister can ask her majesty’s (The Canadian Queen and head of state, Elizabeth II) representative, the Governor General, for permission to call an election. The PM and his government lost the confidence of the House of Commons on Friday and therefore the PM visited the GG on Saturday and we go to the polls on May 2nd. Or elections generally don’t last longer than 37 days.)

Anyway, this sort of stuff drives a huge increase in research – fact checking, lie checking, statistics, journalism, polls, and more. It’s a great boon for librarians.

Anyway, this report from the Pew is very timely. They just released their research report on the internet’s role in the 2010 US midterm election:

The Internet and Campaign 2010

The internet and campaign 2010

“54% of adults used the internet for political purposes in the last cycle, far surpassing the 2006 midterm contest. They hold mixed views about the impact of the internet: It enables extremism, while helping the like-minded find each other. It provides diverse sources, but makes it harder to find truthful sources.”

Download here (39 page PDF)

Overall, there were big increases in internet use, compared to the last midterm campaign in 2006.
Pew asked a bunch of questions about the impact of the internet and found that people like what internet use does for them in their political activities – helps them connect with others who share their political views and gives them more diverse information. But they also express concern about the overall impact of the internet on political culture – saying they fear it gives those with extreme views more influence and makes it harder to find accurate information. I have no reason to think that Canadians ands Americans share the same concerns. Our election periods are much shorter and so is the arc of hyperbole and rhetoric. But otherwise the internet has been transformational in the sharing of opinions, information, misinformation and the ability to organize and contribute.

Reease the hounds.

Stephen

Posted on: March 26, 2011, 11:03 pm Category: Uncategorized

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