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Facebook page.

McDavid said the Web makes her campaign easier for voters to access, in terms of learning about where she stands on issues and giving people a simple way to contribute.

"It's important for all politicians to get their issues across to the people in their district," she said. "These types of Web tools are a great way to interact with the people who will be voting for you. The easier you make it for people to contribute, the more likely they are to contribute. With credit cards, if you give them that opportunity, more people will likely contribute than they would if they had to write a check."

As a technology consultant, McDavid said she's well aware that reaching younger voters means going beyond the scope of traditional campaigning, which is why she expanded her campaign to MySpace and Facebook. Initially these forays into social networking haven't generated much interest - only one visitor to her site has become a Facebook friend and no one has asked for friend status on MySpace as of press time. But McDavid is convinced her efforts to reach out to younger voters will pay off with time.

"The key to reaching the younger voters is to go online. That's their world," she said. "I have a lot of younger people contacting me that have said they viewed my site and like it. It was important to me to get as much information out to the voters as possible, so that they can know me and make an informed decision. You're not going to get from a flier in the mail the same kind of personal touch that you can get using the Web site, blogs and 2.0 technologies - where you are actually bringing your voters or people who are interested in hearing about you into your world."

The next step, McDavid said, is to post campaign videos on YouTube. The candidate hopes this will open more avenues for voters to connect with her campaign.

"You definitely don't want to give the message that you're not interested in interacting with your constituents," she said. "By allowing them to communicate with you [via the Web] it gives the impression that you are approachable and open-minded."

U.S. Senate, Minnesota

It makes sense that the higher up the political food chain, the more resources campaigns have. But the Web helps to level the playing field. Even though Minnesotan Norm Coleman's re-election bid for U.S. Senate includes a top-notch Web site, the candidate prominently features links to popular Web 2.0 applications, such as YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Flickr. Coleman also has links to newer applications such as Utterz - a tool allowing him to post voice, video and text to the Web via a mobile phone - and Sprout, an application that lets users embed Coleman-related news and video on their own sites with just a few mouse clicks.

Coleman's campaign manager, Cullen Sheehan, said these tools help the candidate reach people in new ways.

"Social networking tools and sites are a good opportunity to reach out to supporters with creative and innovative approaches to campaigning," Sheehan said. "There's no doubt the Web is influencing politics, and we've made a commitment to reflect that in our e-campaign. Between e-mail, text messaging, social networking and embedded video, we communicate with thousands of people every day. These are people that might not normally be exposed to information about Norm or about what's going on in the campaign, so it's having a tremendous impact."

Of course like any candidate, Coleman is after the elusive youth vote. Sheehan said she believes the effort being put into the Coleman e-campaign will resonate with the younger generation and

Chad Vander Veen  | 

Chad Vander Veen previously served as the editor of FutureStructure, and the associate editor of Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.