How the blogs and the internet change campaigning

Let's look at the impact of blogging in political campaigning, and we don't have to look specifically at the Lamont race, as there have been multiple instances now of a different campaign template emerging.

First, let me describe how the traditional campaign works, and allow me the broadstroke of generalities to make a few points about how blogs and the internet change the way campaigns are run. I'll call how campaigns are run for the most part now "modern campaigns" and would look back to their emergence over the decade of the 70's, when the television replaced the party for choosing candidates (The Permanent Campaign is the book to read on this matter).

And so over roughly the last 3-4 decades, modern campaigns were run by first getting a candidate, then polling for the voter temperature, lining up fundraising, getting endorsements from special interest groups and creating policy positions. That's what I would describe as the first stage. In the second stage, a campaign would begin filling up with field and communication staffers, stockpiling money, and reaching out to media outlets for earned media and debate. And finally, near the election, the field campaign would round up all of the volunteers to GOTV, and the campaign would blow all of it's money with broadcast television advertising and direct mail.  

Let's call what works today the post-modern campaign, keying in specifically on what is new. In the first stage, a candidate reaches out to the base, and specifically over the internet, reaching out to bloggers, especially those most local. A campaign builds up it's listserve, the candidate aims to get buzz from the activists on the ground, and recognizes the local blogosphere as the pre-field organization of the campaign. At this stage, it's a very decentralized operation, and the candidate's message works because he's seen the movement rally around it, and everything going forward builds off of this base.

Moving into the second stage, when the campaign brings on field staff, they are integrated with the grassroots. The communication staff are in daily touch with the bloggers for message and tactics, and rapid response and oppo research. The Financers recognize that if they can get buzz and chatter and small donors, it's more  than just noise and provides validation for the larger donors and funding organizations.

By the time we get around to the last stage of the campaign, I wouldn't argue that it's all that different. It's still mostly about TV commercials, direct mail, and GOTV. Certainly the campaign that recognizes the power of using niche media to reach the other 65% of the voters that don't watch broadcast television has an advantage. But bloggers are not as integral a part of the closing effort of the campaign, except in helping to rally troops, and some with rapid response (but can still be pushed around by the media mainstream memes).

That's the broad outline that brings out some differences that the blogs and internet make happen. I doubt it's exhaustive, but at least gives an indication of why they are powerful at especially the beginning stages of the campaign, but sort of recede in power as the campaign attempts to reach out to low info voters in the closing days.

If I were to go on with this, I think you could look toward the Jon Tester campaign for how specifically the net and blogs help with early field operations; the Webb campaign for how running a perfect template of what use to work just doesn't work (Harris Miller), and how Webb won through internet reach in NoVA, word of mouth, and earned media that began with blogger buzz; and the Lamont for doing rapid response, throwing off the opponents with oppo research and influencing the storyline of the campaign.

I'm continually amazed at how consultants that work in DC for Democratic candidates, whose only job is to win, don't recognize the strategical advantage that can be gained by embracing the netroots, niche media and re-learning how to target. It's not by looking to the past, and sticking with how they learned to do campaigns, and pretending that the world hasn't changed, that they will win.  

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Screwy Hoolie's One Percent Doctrine

{first posted at Scrutiny Hooligans}

With only 93 days left between today and the general elections in November, there's a new urgency to our efforts.  For nearly six years, we've watched the Bush Republicans take this country skidding along a precipice of disaster:  Iraq, Katrina, Debt, Deficit, Medicare, Anti-Choice, Corruption, Lying, Bigotry, Anti-Science, Pro-Oil, Spying, Torture.  The list could go on and on.  

But in 93 days America has a choice.  Voters across North Carolina have a choice.  But the Mighty Wurlitzer of the Republican Noise Machine is gearing up, as usual, to paint Democrats like Ned Lamont as "insurgents", to scare voters with cries of doom if they vote for Democrats, to ignore the central role Republicans like Robin Hayes and Charles Taylor have played in the failure of the Bush administration.  Republicans want voters to stay the course and keep the can't-shoot-straight gang in power for another two years.  

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The Revolution Has Begun

After the 2004 Presidential campaign, Joe Trippi wrote in his book The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, The Internet and The Overthrow of Everything:  
"This generation of activists is being defined by what they accomplish using the Internet, just as surely as my generation of politicians and strategists was defined by and, eventually chained to, the television. But while TV was a medium that rendered us dumb, disengaged, and disconnected, the Internet makes us smarter, more involved and better informed. The Internet was designed to foster cooperation; it's built on a foundation of shared innovation. This is the beginning of their time. When they use this technology to transform our country in a thunder roll of democracy and change, nothing will ever be the same."

Joe's revolution, begun in 2003, has arrived.

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This is What Democracy Looks Like

This is going to be a series where we introduce the people who make up the campaign. Every staffer will explain a little about who they are, and why their involved in the campaign. It is cross posted at our campaign blog, and throughout the blogosphere


Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Max Berger, and I'm currently working as Web Coordinator for Robert Rodriguez for Congress. I'm a 20 year-old college student dedicating my summer to helping a fantastic candidate (and a good friend) get elected to Congress. I'm what you could consider a "netroots Democrat." I've been a daily blog reader since 2002, took time off school to work full-time for the Dean for America campaign in Burlington, and spent a summer at Media Matters. I want to share the story of how I came to be involved on this campaign, and why it matters so much to me.

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"The War Room" Meets Web 2.0

Cross posted at Future Majority - a new blog about tools, tactics, and policies for reaching voters under 30

I love that title, unfortunately, I can't take credit for it.  I stole it from an MIT blog post I found via Buzz Machine. He used it to describe the potential impact of services like YouTube on the political process.

If you don't know, The War Room is a video documentary by DA Pennebaker about the pioneering of rapid response campaigning by the 1992 Bill Clinton Campaign.  It's a great film, albeit a bit dated now since it makes a big fat zero references to the internet.  (Which makes any the idea of War Room 2.0 even more fascinating).   If you don't know the phrase Web 2.0, you can see what it looks like here and here and here.

From the mystery MIT blogger:

While on one hand internet video could be employed as an effective communications tool, on the other hand it could be a threat to those who ignore it. Few would argue that John Kerry's "I voted for the amendment before I voted against it" quote did not play an important role in the past presidential election. Traditionally candidates have faced opposition campaigns which, at best, deployed a small number of operatives to monitor their opponents' media appearances. In the near future, candidates will have to learn to perform in an environment where the opposition could have a million eyes and ears. A misstep could easily be recorded on camera or phone, uploaded by Joe User, amplified by bloggers, then repeated by the mainstream media in a matter of hours. Think of it as "The War Room" meets Web 2.0.

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