On May 15, the Public Affairs section held the first of a three event series on U.S. Election 2008 themes organized with the partnership of local opinion pollster and events organizer YouGovStone.

For this inaugural event, Digital Politics – Effects of the Information Age on the 2008 U.S. Election and Beyond, a panel of U.S. and UK experts examined how the internet and other forms of “new media” (blogging, social networks, video sharing, etc) are influencing the conduct of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, as well as electoral politics in the UK.

Panel members were Dr Andrew Chadwick, Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations and Founding Director of the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London; Jimmy Leach – UK Director of Digital Communications, Freud Communications, and former Head of Digital Communications for the Prime Minister’s Office; Phil Noble, Noble & Associates, Washington DC and Founder, PoliticsOnline; and Joanna Shields, President, Bebo. The discussion was chaired by Gideon Rachman, Chief Foreign Affairs Columnist of the Financial Times.

A capacity audience of 170 opinion leaders in the Embassy auditorium engaged the panel on how these newer means of communication might affect the outcome of elections by shaping the way that voters get information and support their candidates, both financially and through peer persuasion.

In a PA London first, the event was broadcast live on the Internet via the website of our media partner the Financial Times. The webcast was promoted on the front page of the May 15 FT and on America.gov. We received e-mailed questions from as far away as Singapore. Initial indications are that web viewership was strong.