A generation ago, a hotly contested Congressional race like the one in NY23 would be seen through the prism of the afternoon paper....the WWNY 6PM newscast.....The morning radio news on 790....and if you are an activist maybe a dinner or a rally.
You relied on party loyalty and the agenda was set by the party (Republican) and the media (Watertown Daily Times).
What a difference a generation makes.
Yesterday a group of Lewis County folks stopped by after work and as we chatted about our local race, Neil Cavuto was in high definition splendor interviewing the governor of Minnesota about why a man nobody heard of six months ago should be our next Member of Congress....Later John Boehner was on plugging for Scozzafava.....On MSNBC they were crowing about a Bill Owens win being a validation of the Obama administration and the hijacking of the GOP by teab------.
On the Internet, the NY Times top story was about us. Same in the LA Times.
The many activist sights like Susan B. Anthony and Redstate America are all talking.
Two of the campaigns have high-tech voter ID programs reaching six figure numbers of people....categorizing them and following up with phone calls, personal literature drops or lawn signs.
My friend Otis says he got an e-mail from the President ! And you probably cannot count the Tweets resulting from all this.
War rooms are set up in local hotels. Databases perused and massaged. Direct mail is being sent by all sorts of third party advocacy groups.
Robo-calls are incessant. Radio and TV buys are ocurring in half a dozen media markets all touching parts of the sprawling district.
Paid and volunteer help hit the streets hanging full color glossies on doors.
Blogs are written with information, opinion, leaks, and lies. The blogs are read by old media and posted by popular aggregators like Newzjunky.com.
There's air wars and ground battles, and one campaign is promising the equivalent of shock and awe this weekend.
There are polls, internal and external.
There is media, seeing the polls and seeing the people turn against their editorial wishes.
There are people with little training or standards acting as news gatekeepers on the net and the public seeks out the cable channel that best provides an echo chamber for their views. National talkers repeat information and misinformation without knowing the difference.
Against all of this, next Tuesday the will of the people will be expressed in an election. For the most part the voter has a chance to be be well informed in the Brave New World of Internet media...But as they said on Hill Street Blues..."be careful out there."
There are a few voters who get it all the old fashioned way. For them, they barely know a race is happening. For the rest of us its like a pinball game to watch....until Tuesday when the ball goes down the chute and we look up to see the score.