Power Players

How you and your smartphone are changing politics

Power Players

Political Punch

"One third of voters say they have not watched television in the previous week," reads a napkin at a temporary Google space in Charlotte, N.C. Another notes that 90 percent of tablet users now consume news on the tablet. One more statistic block printed on yet another napkin: 83 percent of smartphone users are registered voters.

In other words, new media and social media are a huge part of the 2012 election, driving technology giants to increase their footprints not only in Washington, D.C., but also at the quadrennial political conventions. Technology companies were at both the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and last week's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.. Google Inc. set up shop in giant shipping containers built specifically for the conventions.

Young voters "are much more comfortable watching the news and evaluating the news on their laptops [and] on their phones," says former congresswoman Susan Molinari. Molinari is now vice president of Google Inc.'s Public Policy and Government Affairs arm in Washington, D.C.

"It's a mobile society, and politicians really need to learn to speak to their constituents directly," says the politician-turned-techie..

Political Punch caught up with Molinari in Charlotte, N.C., where the former U.S. congresswoman and 1996 Republican National Convention keynote speaker outlined the stark differences between past and present political conventions.

"All you have to do is look around this room and you can see how much conventions have changed. Not only in this room but in everyone's living room," says Molinari. "People can watch it, they can interact, you know we call these conventions without walls now."

With convention speeches driving search trends, pleas for donations popping into smartphones right before the big RNC and DNC moments, and convention goers glued to laptops and smartphones in the audience, it sure looks like politics have gone hi-tech for the 2012 election.

The Obama and Romney campaigns are reacting to this new media world, peddling mobile apps, launching cell phone swipe card donations, and even making major announcements via new media.

Both campaigns have also been aware of the changing landscape when it comes to ads. "A lot of their money for their advertisements are now spent online," says Molinari. "Because some of the people that they want to reach, they can target them and evaluate their response."

Political ads are also slowly moving toward micro-targeting, which "really is the wave of the future," says Molinari, who is quick to add that Google does not share its users' names or information. But the information is already out there, through magazine subscriptions, online purchases and all the other information people fill out.

Bottom line, elected officials need to get used to young voters being online constantly, consuming everything on laptops and tablets.

"The technological implications for elections, and for business, is absolutely amazing, because this space is just moving so quickly," says the former congressman. "It's just kind of funny to think when I was giving the keynote speech, none of this was out there."

There was plenty social buzz that came out of these conventions. What did people type into search engines after Michelle Obama spoke? And what was the query after Clint Eastwood's unorthodox performance? Check out this week's Political Punch to find out.

ABC News' Stephanie Smith and Sarah Burke contributed to this report.

View Comments (296)

Recommended for You

  • Iraqi officer under Saddam masterminded rise of Islamic State: Spiegel

    A former intelligence officer for the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was the mastermind behind Islamic State's takeover of northern Syria, according to a report by Der Spiegel that is based on documents uncovered by the German magazine. Spiegel, in a lengthy story published at the weekend and…

    Reuters52 mins ago
  • Husband sets wife on fire in Pakistan 'honour killing'

    A Pakistani man and his father have been arrested in the country's latest so-called "honour killing" after they set the son's wife alight for leaving the house without asking his permission, police said Sunday. Muhammad Siddique became enraged on learning that his wife, Shabana Bibi, 25, had…

  • Mark Hamill said he was 'suspicious' of J.J. Abrams

    ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mark Hamill knew he had to say yes when George Lucas told him about the plans to move forward with a new "Star Wars" trilogy.

    Associated Press
  • Norway asks Moscow to explain deputy PM's island visit despite sanctions

    Norway said on Sunday it has sought an explanation from Moscow for a visit to a Norwegian island by Russia's deputy prime minister, who is banned from Norway in keeping with international sanctions against him over Ukraine. Dmitry Rogozin is among a group of Russians who had sanctions imposed on…

  • Play

    Missing Gary woman found dead, daughter safe

    An Indiana woman was found dead inside a Gary home after she disappeared earlier this month with her baby daughter, police say.

    WLS – Chicago
  • Ohio woman's search for birth mother leads to co-worker

    YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — A 38-year-old woman's quest to find her birth mother ended in a surprising place — the company where she works.

    Associated Press
  • Email: Affleck asked PBS to not reveal slave-owning ancestor

    BOSTON (AP) — Ben Affleck requested that the PBS documentary series "Finding Your Roots" not reveal he had a slave-owning ancestor, according to emails published online by whistleblower site WikiLeaks, and the information never appeared on the program.

    Associated Press
  • Poland summons U.S. ambassador over FBI head's Holocaust remarks

    Poland has summoned the United States' ambassador in Warsaw over an article written by a top U.S. intelligence official on Poland's alleged responsibility for the Holocaust during World War Two, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Sunday. The article by FBI director James Comey, published in the…

  • Researcher denied flight after tweet poking United security

    WASHINGTON (AP) — United Airlines stopped a prominent security researcher from boarding a California-bound flight late Saturday, following a social media post by the researcher days earlier suggesting the airline's onboard systems could be hacked.

    Associated Press9 mins ago
  • Ohio officer praised for restraint, refused to shoot suspect

    NEW RICHMOND, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio police officer is being praised for holding his fire even as a slaying suspect charged him, saying repeatedly, "shoot me."

    Associated Press
  • Iran leader urges military to increase 'preparedness'

    Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged his armed forces Sunday to increase their "defensive preparedness", denouncing a US warning that military action is an option if there is no nuclear deal. In a speech to commanders and troops, the supreme leader said "the other side with insolence threaten us all…

  • Play

    Woman Arrested for Husband's Murder, Daughter's Attempted Murder

    Act 7: Detective Dominick Spinelli says Stacey Castor attempted to use her daughter as a scapegoat.

    ABC News Videos
  • Toddler shot in drive-by near Seattle dies

    A one-year-old girl who was shot in the head during a drive-by shooting near Seattle on Thursday died late Saturday from her wounds, hospital officials said. The girl was brain dead and life support care had been removed, a spokeswoman for Harborview Medical Center said. Police in Kent, Washington,…

  • One man's last wish, 'Don't vote for Hillary Clinton.' Will it matter?

    Larry Darrell Upright died this week. "In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Shriners Hospital for Children .... Also, the family respectfully asks that you do not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. We promise not to vote for Hillary," one mourner wrote. A CNN poll released Monday shows that…

    Christian Science Monitor
  • 'Mysterious' disease kills 18 in Nigeria: official

    "Twenty-three people (were affected) and 18 deaths were recorded," the Ondo state health commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, told AFP. The government spokesman for the state, Kayode Akinmade, earlier gave a toll of 17 dead. "Seventeen people have died of the mysterious disease since it broke out early…

  • British royal baby's first A to Z

    From baby fashion to specially-minted coins, here is an A to Z on the birth of Prince William and his wife Kate's second child, as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge prepare for their new addition to Britain's royal family. A proclamation will be displayed on an easel at the gates of Buckingham…

  • Sheriff: Cannot yet arrest woman bragging of killing cat

    HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas sheriff said Saturday that he could not arrest and charge a veterinarian shown in a Facebook post bragging about killing a cat with a bow and arrow unless an investigation determines the picture of the dead cat is genuine.

    Associated Press
  • Germanwings crash families could seek damages in the U.S.: lawyer

    By Kirsti Knolle FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Families of the victims of the Germanwings crash are considering filing a claim for damages in the United States if they cannot reach agreement with parent airline Lufthansa in Germany, a lawyer representing the families said on Sunday. Compensation talks with…