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Obama, McCain in hectic cyber campaign

In a presidential election with a record 46% Americans using electronic media to access campaign news, information and opinion, the internet offers many bizarre features — both from campaigners and supporters.

delhi Updated: Jul 09, 2008 23:59 IST

In a presidential election with a record 46% Americans using electronic media to access campaign news, information and opinion, the internet offers many bizarre features — both from campaigners and supporters.

Two weeks ago, a website that jokingly encourages people to mail their babies to Barack Obama for a kiss made headlines. McCain's site encourages visitors to play a game where they can shoot at pork – the American term for special interest programs attached to necessary bills. One blog asks if Obama is the “Messiah”; another “the AntiChrist?”

Despite heavy use of online social networking by both camps, only 28 per cent of internet users said they felt closer to their preferred candidate. Sixty per cent felt the internet was full of misinformation and propaganda, according to a recent Pew Research poll.

Obama, who caters to a younger demographic, has been more media-savvy, creating profiles on Facebook and MySpace and niche sites like AsianAve and BlackPlanet, but these personal pages only carry information from the campaign.

McCain's site is simpler but still has a blog to provide frequent updates. His “blog” carries campaign announcements about his trips and new Tv ads, not personal musings.

Perhaps the most personal site for either campaign is the near-daily McCainBlogette. Started last October, by Meghan McCain, John McCain's 23 year-old daughter, it projects a fun, informal tone more in line with the way the “Facebook Generation”.

Meghan's website confusingly says it “is not in any way affiliated with John McCain,” but, at the same time, foucuses on McCain’s campaign. In the last two months, Meghan has shown him at two Cuban-American rallies in Florida and two events hosted by groups that advocate the right to own guns.

“Everyone tries to use family members to give themselves a personal, human face for voters who don't know the candidate's character," Samuel Popkin, a professor at University of California, San Diego and consultant on both Bill Clinton and Al Gore's campaigns, said in an email. “They want to use kids to simply connect a bit with their generation.”