Answer is hazy

I don’t write much on my personal blog about my work, but maybe now is the time to start. I’ve been struggling with the question of the internet as a tactic in campaigns, and through it all significantly handicapped by my lack of political campaign experience (and consequently a limited understanding of traditional campaign tactics). But when Micah Sifry wrote an astonishingly honest and clear post-mortem of the Rasiej campaign (which I was also associated with), I started to think about some of the questions I struggle with in terms of the internet and campaigns:

(a) Online voter persuasion & GOTV: I think that we generally understand online fundraising. But what about voter persuasion and voter GOTV? How does online persuasion work? Is it successful? I think it’s a tough nut to crack.

(b) Declining effectiveness of online fundraising: In the mean time, what we know about online fundraising is slowly declining in effectiveness. At some point that side of the equation is going to stop working, too. Oh, and even right now it’s expensive and has a long maturation time line. Don’t believe me? How many repeats of the Dean campaign have we seen – any?

(c) Television: given the changing media landscape (increasing proliferation of cable tv channels, fractured audience, penetration of TiVo and DVR technologies, rise of video games and internet as alternative to TV, increasing use of DVDs to watch movies instead of visiting movie theater – which appears to eat away at standard TV time), what is the role of TV in the next cycle? arguably, the most powerful TV ads last cycle were the Swift Boat ads – a small cable buy. What about the other $1 billion spent on TV for political ads? You could spend more money on field and other non-TV strategies – with exciting and successful effects – but at the end of the day if your opponent puts up a couple million in negative ads and they can win. Negative ads still have a decisive effect.

(d) Media: the population that consumes traditional media is rapidly shrinking. Last year Pew did a study about how people consume news. More and more consume it via blogs and other informal sources – like the Daily Show. “new media” should include cell phones and video games. I suspect cell phones are going to rapidly grow as a way people consume information and news. how much does a new york times story really matter? how much does it drive other coverage? how important are reporters to the political dynamic if less people depend on their outlets for news? it’s possible that they’re more important – but with smaller audiences.

(e) National strategies vs. primary strategies: One of my number one take-aways from the Dean campaign was that we had a national internet strategy – which was pointless (except to raise money) when you’re trying to win Iowa and New Hampshire.

At the end of the day, it’s clear that the internet is emerging as a decisive part of american life – but I can’t figure out what that really means for politics. there are glimmers of what it might mean here and there, but nothing is really coming together for me.

2 Responses to “Answer is hazy”

  1. Dave P Says:

    Welcome back to blogging. We appreciate your reflections, however hazy.

  2. Anne Says:

    success! late for dinner, but successfully logged in. welcome back, my friend. i’ve missed this form of your presence!

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