Andrew Rasiej says blogging was "the primary force in the Dean campaign" in terms of online tools. One might argue that Meetup held that distinction. In any case, the maturation and convergence of those technologies -- and the question of how the web translates into votes -- remains an open one. Has the Obama campaign cracked the code?
Kay Hagan's Facebook campaign group has 636 members. Jim Neal's group has 393 members. How active are the campaigns in strategizing around these groups, and the web in general? If I was trying to chase down an incumbent senator, I'd be thinking very hard about that question, and looking hard at Obama's campaign for answers.
Online Media Daily: "Less than half of the 2008
presidential candidates are using paid search advertising as part of
their online campaign strategies, according to a new study...
Republicans are catching on more quickly to search, with five of the
eight major candidates running paid search ads, compared to only two of
the eight Democratic candidates."
The Edwards campaign called. They are in a tizzy over a quote from my article, which is being sensationalized at this moment on Drudge: "Elizabeth Edwards on campaign's troubles: 'We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman'..."
The campaign staff didn't even know I had spoken to Elizabeth Edwards [clarification: some staffers knew because I told them after the fact, but I didn't go thru official channels to reach her]. That is how she rolls. The staffer wanted to know when I talked to her, and what she said. CNN just asked me the same thing.
Here's how it went: I emailed Elizabeth in July to ask if she wanted to talk for an article I was reporting on the use of the net in politics. She said sure, so I called her and we spoke, on the record and for publication, with the only caveat being that I not discuss ahead of time the then-impending response to all the noise about her husband's hair.
She did say the words quoted by Drudge, and obviously it's a zinger, but somewhat less so in context:
The Web can be liberating. "It's about bypassing the sieve of the
mainstream media," says Elizabeth Edwards, wife and confidant of
Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards. "The idea that you have
people standing between you and the voter is diminished, and the
capacity to speak directly empowers candidates to trust their own
voices." With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama hogging media coverage,
campaigns can push their messages without paying for ads.
"In some ways, it's the way we have to go," Edwards says. "We
can't make John black, we can't make him a woman. Those things get you
a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars. Now it's
nice to get on the news, but not the be all and end all."
She's quoted elsewhere in the article, too: In at least some campaigns, the Internet pros have penetrated the inner
circle. "This is the new reality: the Internet people are at the most
senior table," says Elizabeth Edwards, the candidate's wife and
adviser, herself an early proponent of online campaigning. "Trippi
reports to John. It's a straight line. Whenever there is a process of
trying to get out a message, or engaging people on an issue, the
Internet is honestly the first place we start."
Elizabeth Edwards said some insightful things about net campaigns in a long article about net campaigns. One of the things she said about using the web to create buzz when other candidates are sucking up all the media oxygen was kind of spicy, as it implies that at least some of the attention given to her husband's rivals is for reasons other than their excellence as candidates. She's worked somewhat similar ground before.
The stuff about integrating databases at the state level and figuring out how social networks translate into votes seems a lot more important than the dig at the media and/or Obama and Clinton, but I guess it doesn't make such a sexy soundbite.
Here's my article on the state of net campaigning. Here's a sidebar about web video and social networks.
Some of the stuff about the differences in strategy between GOP and Democrats will be familiar to people who follow these things closely. I think the newsiest part concerns the ongoing quest to link campaign HQ with field ops. As Zack Exley says in the article, "It's still an open question whether any campaign will run a truly well-organized Internet campaign on Feb. 5."
Mike Turk compares this year's campaigns to the last Bush-Cheney effort, which was highly integrated (if lacking in the social nets that many campaigns are now pursuing: "I don't know if any of the presidential candidates this
year will build something comparable to what we had in '04 by February.
Next November is more likely."
UPDATE: The quote that seems to be getting the most play, at least via Instapundit and Drudge, is this one from Elizabeth Edwards about using the web to bypass traditional media:"In some ways, it's the way we have to go," Edwards says. "We can't
make John black, we can't make him a woman. Those things get you a lot
of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars. Now it's nice
to get on the news, but not the be all and end all."