This week Hillary Clinton's blogHILLARY went live, signaling that the social media portion of the 2008 campaign is well underway. Clinton joins Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and ex-Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who both have 2008 campaign blogs. The candidates themselves don't seem to be posting to the blogs. Instead, all three of the blogs take a "community" approach, with posts generally authored by supporters and spokespeople.
We've all seen the power social media has to break a politician. Howard Dean was both made and unmade by the Internet, and Senator Ted Stevens (Democrat, Alaska), not a presidential hopeful, is thus far the politician most mercilessly attacked on the Web, most likely because his ill-conceived "Internet tubes" remarks were about the Internet.
The Democratic Party has demonstrated both a willingness to embrace social media, and the potential to be burned by it. But this year we will see social media-savvy candidates (at least on the Democratic side) backed by social media-savvy advisors, with an awareness of the risks of social media, and blogs and podcasts will have greater influence than ever before in political history.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports:
"An online arms race has erupted among Democrats in particular. Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York along with ex-Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina are deploying web-based video, social networking and citizen journalism to engage and motivate voters."
It will be interesting to see whether the Republicans can catch up, as they seem to be lagging the Democrats' online lead. (Full disclosure: I am a Democrat.)