URI professor studies Internet influence during political campaigns

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KINGSTON, R.I. –February 19, 2008–Brian Krueger, associate professor of political science at the University of Rhode Island, studies the influence of the Internet on individuals during political campaigns.

Without a doubt, politics has gone high-tech. Consider that Hillary Clinton tossed her presidential hat into the ring via a video on her website. MySpace, FaceBook and YouTube postings combine humor, music, and video to root for their candidates. Remember how the girl with a crush on Obama created a politically incorrect, but impressive wave? And thanks to the Internet, campaign fundraising is nearly instantaneous. Blogging, online organizing, and podcasts are now as much a part of the political landscape as kissing babies.

Krueger considers these questions in his research: Is there more political information available? Are there gaps of knowledge between the haves and have-nots? Is the public more engaged?

For example, Krueger’s research finds that because of the negativity attached to senders of SPAM, political campaigns actually avoid directly e-mailing citizens who are not already engaged in the campaign. This e-mail barrier between campaigns and non-engaged citizens reinforces longstanding patterns of political involvement. Of course, peer-to-peer networks may overcome this problem, which makes them especially important to understanding the democratizing potential of the medium.

The URI professor recently was an online CBS News political consultant, analyzing Sen. John McCain’s Super Tuesday victory in the GOP primaries. The professor has authored or co-authored books and articles dealing with conventional and unconventional political participation, political mobilization, and the impact of new technologies on political behavior. Krueger typically teaches undergraduate American politics courses (American presidency, political parties, public opinion), as well as a graduate research methods seminar at URI.