The Web: E-mail's last-minute vote-getting

By GENE J. KOPROWSKI, United Press International  |  Nov. 2, 2004 at 8:35 AM
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CHICAGO, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- As the battle for the White House wound down this weekend, one campaign sent out a message by e-mail, in French, to its constituents.

The message contained the text of an editorial from the Paris daily, Le Monde, endorsing Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., for president as its "Le choix americain" or American choice.

The letter was not the braggadocio of the Kerry camp, however. It was sent by the Republican National Committee with an exhortation at the end of the e-mail to "forward this to a friend."

"Real citizens are spending hours online, comparing how stories are reported," Steve Davis, chairman of the newspaper program at Syracuse University, told UPI's The Web. "They want to comment. They want to participate."

Electronic campaign literature has officially joined bumper stickers, yard signs and phone calls as an essential tool in the final push before the vote on Tuesday, experts said.

The RNC e-mail plays off a theme, publicized by James Taranto, editor of The Wall Street Journal's, that Kerry was "French-looking" and more interested in the opinions of Europeans than Americans.

The Democrats and third-party organizations also are using e-mail to get their messages out. Some salient materials sent to The Web during the last 48 hours are as follows:

-- The Democratic National Committee's announcement that former President Bill Clinton was campaigning in Nevada, New Mexico, and his home state of Arkansas to "encourage all Americans to vote for John Kerry and a fresh start for America."

-- Alan Keyes' U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois sent an e-mail "action alert" to supporters, telling them to e-mail, so they could be sent a list of 500 voters to call to get out the vote on Monday evening.

-- Catholics for Kerry, a group in Ohio, sent out an e-mail Oct. 31 to journalists and supporters, seeking to bolster their man among wavering pro-life Catholics. The message, which had a reply address at the Web site, claimed since President George W. Bush took office in 2001, "median family income has fallen by $1,535, child poverty has increased by 11 percent, the total number of people who live in poverty is up by 4.3 million, and 5.2 million more Americans have no health insurance."

-- The RNC, in an e-mail signed by Chairman Marc Racicot, sent a URL linked to the names of 15 voters in a toss-up state and said, "When you get home tonight, use your free minutes to reach out across the country" and encourage people to vote for Bush.

Even commercial organizations are using e-mail to take advantage of the focus on the campaign., the self-proclaimed oldest online casino, is sending out copies of its "presidential poll" to encourage visitors to come to its site. Four years ago, the site predicted Bush would beat then Vice President Al Gore by 50 percent to 49 percent. The actual results were Bush 48.38 percent and Gore 48.87 percent in the popular vote, but 271 electoral votes for Bush to 266 for Gore. Bush's final total for Florida was 48.850 percent to Gore's 48.841 percent.

The gamblers are now predicting President Bush will win over Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee by 53 percent to 47 percent.

"Internet gamblers predict who will win within 2 percentage points of the official election results," Sean Hamel, a spokesman for the online casino, told The Web.

All of this may be changing the way people perceive politics in America, one expert said.

"Opinions get more coalesced. People get more active. They get out and contact others," Alex Halavais, an assistant professor of communications at the State University of New York at Buffalo, told The Web.


The Web is a weekly series by UPI examining the global telecommunications phenomenon known as the World Wide Web. E-mail

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