October 4th, 2008
How have the political parties used the online medium to prepare for, and respond to last night’s debates in Canada and the US? They are similar on the preparation, sending out email messages to their supporters urging them to host a debate party and suggesting what to look for in the debate.
But the big difference between Canada and the US is in the parties’ reaction to the debates. Overnight, both the Obama and McCain sites have posted extensive quotes from supportive commentators and polling numbers. YouTube is already full of debate excerpts, analysis, and commentary. The Canadian scene, by contrast, is extremely disappointing. The party websites have very little reaction to the debates, either quotes from commentators or poll numbers. The latest ads still dominate their home pages. Almost nothing has been posted on YouTube about the debate, either by the parties or by the public.
What is happening this year? I can remember that in the 2003 Ontario leadership debate, opposition leader Dalton McGuinty gave a strong performance against a tired Premier Ernie Eves, and the Ontario Liberals had every bit of supportive commentary posted on their site by the next morning. Maybe this year the campaigns are already exhausted, or perhaps they’ve concluded that the debate was inconclusive, so they’ll continue to hammer away in their advertising. But I’m disappointed that none of the Canadian parties has yet seized on the debates as an important part of their campaign narrative.