Political Technology Determines Political Success

Douglas Fisher Wins
The News-Chronicle Headline on one of the biggest political upsets in Canadian history!

THUNDER BAY – Indepth – New technology presents new opportunity. In the political world, often a candidate who uses new ideas, and is able to transcend the campaign is going to be successful. Today, when the Internet, Social Media, Youtube are added to the mix, it can present a total online means of reaching prospective supporters.

In Thunder Bay, often the path to political victory is paved with the use of new technology. Have you ever watched an Infomercial on television?

Did you know that it was Douglas Fisher, in Thunder Bay running for the CCF, who was likely the first person to broadcast a political infomercial? Fisher’s broadcasts on the new (at the time) medium of television on CKPR in Thunder Bay was a key to his stunning upset of Liberal Titan CD Howe.

Fisher stated, “I began a series of fortnightly 15 minute appearances on CKPR, right after the local evening news, when the audience was high. This became weekly, then as the campaign went on, we were on every second evening. This garnered a very positive response. I did the ‘blackboard thing’, dealing with issues one by one. By the time the election came along, I was doing family scenes with attractive local personalities such as ‘Aunt Ede’ – Mrs. Wiggands. I got her talking about her friends who were less fortunate than she. She realized so many of them were near starvation on small old age pensions”.

Using new technology, Fisher went on to victory.

John Rafferty, the current MP for Thunder Bay-Rainy River used new technology in winning the 2008 federal election. Rafferty defeated Ken Boshcoff in that election using a combination of regular Candidate’s Ledgers, his website, and extensive door-knocking to secure victory. It is a similar path to how Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs, our first Facebook Mayor, won in 2010.

While a solid Facebook presence is important for a politician, the reality perhaps is that on Facebook people are looking to engage with friends. On the political website for the candidate, it likely attracts more supporters, and may not have the reach right away to get potential supporters onboard the campaign.

It is critical, as history has proven, in Thunder Bay for candidates to be able to reach past their traditional base. In the 2008 federal campaign, John Rafferty did that with regular columns submitted to the local media. Those items published online and in the traditional press allowed him to electronically do what Douglas Fisher did in defeating CD Howe.

In the 2011 Ontario Election, it is hard to tell what the results will be. The latest Ipsos Reid poll has the Liberals in third place, however, it is likely that few of the experts would suggest that either Michael Gravelle or Bill Mauro will go down to defeat that easily. It will be up to the challengers to see how they fight to make the 2011 Ontario election a major battle, or not.

Right now, the New Democrats appear to be lagging massively in the technology race. The local Progressive Conservatives are matching the Liberals.

If political technology determines political success, this might be in both local ridings, a two horse race.

James Murray
News Director

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