Hanscom Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, Meeting

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

MIT Lincoln Laboratory Auditorium

Refreshments: 3:30 PM, Talk 4 - 5 PM Joint Meeting with the IEEE Life Members


Divisive Technology:

The Impact of the Internet on Presidential Campaigning

Professor D. Sunshine Hillygus, Department of Government, Harvard University


Political scholars have long recognized that information and communication technologies have fundamentally altered how candidates run campaigns--websites, online fundraising, and email communication have become integral to political campaigns. Often, however, these new technologies are viewed as a supplemental communication tool for conducting "politics as usual"— presumed to change the style of political campaigns, but not the basic structure of political interaction. Prof. Hillygus argues that new technologies have changed not only how candidates communicate with voters, it has also changed the substance of that communication.

The explosion of information about individual voters and the diversification and fragmentation of the communications environment have influenced candidates’ ability and willingness to campaign on divisive wedge issues. Whereas the introduction of previous communication technologies, especially television, was used to expand and broaden the audience receiving a campaign message, technologies today are used to narrowly communicate these targeted messages to smaller and more segmented audiences. These changes in candidate strategy and campaign tactics have potentially detrimental consequences for political inequality, electoral accountability, and democratic governance.

D. Sunshine Hillygus is Assistant Professor of Government and director of the Harvard Program on Survey Research. Her research and teaching interests include American voting behavior, campaigns and elections, survey research, and information technology and society. Her work has been published in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, and Political Behavior, among others. She is co-author of the book, The Hard Count: The Social and Political Challenges of the 2000 Census (Russell Sage Foundation, 2006). She is currently completing a book about the interaction of candidates and voters in presidential campaigns, titled, The Persuadable Voter: Strategic Candidates and Wedge Issues in Presidential Campaigns. She is also a faculty affiliate of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, on the executive committee of the Center for American Political Studies, and was a research fellow at the Shorenstein Center for Press and Politics in Fall 2006.


This meeting is free and open to the public. However, foreign national visitors to Lincoln Lab require visit requests. The meeting will be held 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, 2007. Refreshments are at 3:30 p.m. and Prof. Hillygus presentation will begin at 4:00 p.m., both in the Lincoln Laboratory Auditorium, 244 Wood Street, Lexington, MA. Registration is in the main lobby. You are encouraged to pre-register by e-mail to reception@ll.mit.edu; please indicate your citizenship. You will not receive a confirmation of your pre-registration, however, your badge will be ready for you when you arrive at the registration desk. For more information, please contact Ed Altshuler, Edward.altshuler@hanscom.af.mil, (781) 377-4662, or Jim Ernstmeyer, j.ernstmeyer@worldnet.att.net, (781) 377-1735, or visit the IEEE website at http://www.ieeeboston.org/.


A no-host dinner and discussion will begin after the talk at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, at the Great Wall Restaurant, in the Great Road Shopping Center, Bedford, MA.