What has Kim dotcom and Barak Obama got in common?

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Both have changed how we engage politics through the use of digital media.

The days of political parties reaching potential voters especially young voters, by just using TV and newspaper ads is well and truly over. The 2008 American elections made all political parties around the world sit up and take notice.

“Involvement through Empowerment.”  This was the mission of the Barack Obama campaign. The first political campaign in history to truly harness the power of social media to spread the word, garner support and get people engaged. The Obama campaign reached 5 million supporters on 15 different social Networks over the course of campaign season.  By November 2008, Obama had approximately 2.5 million (some sources say as many as 3.2 million) Facebook supporters, 115,000 Twitter followers, and 50 million viewers of his YouTube channel. “No other candidate has ever integrated the full picture the way [Obama] has, that’s what’s really new about his campaign,” said Michael Malbin, executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute” (The dragon fly effect 2013).

Barak Obama changed politics forever in 2008, the amount of voters he managed to get involved is mind blowing.  Just think as well that in 2008 smartphones were not as readily available as they are today and also Twitter wasn’t as popular.

Most people around the world are on the internet, they carry smartphones and generally have a Facebook account.  Obama in 2012 ,raised $690 million for his campaign, most of this money was raised through Facebook.  The Money that was raised through Facebook were friends letting other friends know about the Obama online donations. (MacKinnon 2014).

And while in New Zealand our voter participation has been falling especially in the younger voter group, the trend in America has been quite the opposite.  The digital age of campaigning has managed to get voters who normally wouldn’t be interested in elections and politics interested.

Kim Dotcom love him or hate him, with the launch of his Internet party, he is doing what Obama did in the US, connecting people with politics through digital media. Stacey Kirk explains how Dotcom is changing politics in New Zealand

 “Typically, he’s done it by releasing an app, the first of its kind allowing membership sign-up. It satisfies both electoral law requirements and Apple and Google’s rules around collecting money through their stores.” (Kirk 2014)

As I have mentioned in a previous blog, last election there were 1 million people who didn’t vote. The opposition parties are honing in on this group, as they see them as vital to any election win.

National has led the way with their negativity towards Dotcom and his Internet party, trying to turn voters off.  But all parties seem to be running scared that Dotcom can actually get this large group of voters to do the unthinkable and vote.  The voters who didn’t vote last election are mostly young people who have been brought up in the internet age, and see politics as full of boring old people.

Bryce Edwards points out that all parties have a reason to be scared of Dotcom, his party has the power to impact them all on Election Day. Edwards then goes on to argue that National may be particularly nervous of Dotcom as he could get the young voters and some of those 1 million voters who didn’t vote last election motivated to vote. (Edwards 2014).

If Dotcom can unleash the new’ digital age ’ into  boring New Zealand politics this election and do what Obama has done in the US, then we are looking at a new political party in Parliament.

Just think all he has to do is engage a small percentage of the 1 million voters who didn’t vote last election, 50,000 votes will get him to the 5% threshold to enter Parliament.  Let’s face it, the other political parties in New Zealand have no real grasp of the power of the internet or social media.  Even if Dotcom’s party doesn’t get into Parliament he will have changed the New Zealand political landscape through the use of digital media in campaigns forever.




Edwards, Bryce. Bryce Edwards: Political roundup:What will happen in 2014? January 7th, 2014. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11182540 (accessed May 17th, 2014).

Kirk, Stacey. It’s the digital election race. April 6th, 2014. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9909573/Its-the-digital-election-race (accessed May 17th, 2014).

MacKinnon, Leslie. Teddy Goff, Obama’s digital guru, teachers Liberals new tricks. Febuary 23th, 2014. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/teddy-goff-obama-s-digital-guru-teaches-liberals-new-tricks-1.2547951 (accessed May 17th, 2014).

The dragon fly effect. How Obama Won With Social Media. 2013. http://www.dragonflyeffect.com/blog/dragonfly-in-action/case-studies/the-obama-campaign/ (accessed May 17th, 2014).



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