E-mail attacks show 'Net's campaign power

May 22, 2008 at 2:07 PM

WASHINGTON, May 22 (UPI) -- An e-mail campaign questioning Sen. Barack Obama's patriotism shows the murkier side of the Internet's effect on the U.S. presidential race, analysts said.

The Internet is an emerging dominance in American politics -- all campaigns include the 'net in their financial campaigns, the Politico, a Washington publication reported Thursday.

"In the old days, communication was more centralized," said veteran GOP marketer Alex Castellanos "If you were attacked in one venue, you dealt with it there. It was top-down and it was manageable."

The anti-Obama e-mail messages zipping helter-skelter in cyberspace are difficult to track, although the Web site Snopes.com has cataloged and debunked many of them.

Misperceptions on the Internet have translated into misperceptions by U.S. voters, Politico reported. A Pew survey indicated 1-in-10 Americans said they think Obama is Muslim. A focus group of independent voters conducted for NBC and The Wall Street Journal uncovered that half of the participants said "no" when asked if they thought of Obama as an American.

"They have no sense of his roots," Peter Hart, the Democratic pollster who conducted the survey, told Politico. "They just are confused, uninitiated and uncertain about who he is and what his background is."

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