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Howard Dean was a little known ex-governor from Vermont. He ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004 against several other opponents and is now the Chair of the DemocraticPartyUsa?
. While that would make him famous in many other circles, to MeatballWiki
he's of interest because he used the Internet very effectively for his campaign. Some had placed him in the lead of the race, and those place the mantle squarely on his Internet campaign's shoulders, including it's failure. Regardless of what the result of the race may be, his campaign will certainly be a lesson for all future campaigns.
While John McCain also famously used the Internet in the 2000 Republican nomination to raise funds quickly and legally,  the difference was that McCain had to rely on a more "traditional" flesh and television campaign to win the New Hampshire primary to catalyze his e-campaign. Conversely, Dean started with the Internet directly. The difference may simply be that the Internet may finally have enough penetration into American culture to make such a campaign feasible, or it may be that Dean has used the Internet more savvily, or more likely both cases are true. Dean also rode on an AntiWar? and AntiBush? political message that galvanized many Americans, which he relaxed later in the campaign.
- Meetup is the heart and soul of our campaign. -- Howard Dean, November 1, 2003, http://www.deanforamerica.com
- Customize the message as much as possible, noting the cost is now just the one-time cost of original production + negligible dissemination
- Give up centralized control.
- Yet maintain order through genuine leadership: provide clear messages, pay attention to what your supporters are doing, address their mistakes (teach!), and let them lead each other.
- Orchestrate communication between supporters
- "Centralized" when need to catalyze behaviour in supporters by making their peers' work visible (building GroupShift?): such as posting pictures of modified campaign posters, feature local leaders, feature meetup events (the featurette box)
- Decentralized for tailored issues, location-based communications, fun.
- Offload costs onto third parties, including (and especially) supporters. This is often more acceptable to people than direct donations--because it's easier, it costs less (or zero to them, but it saves you money), it may not be associated with money--and it is more efficient as the total overall cost of the campaign diminishes.
- Use free stuff!
- Use viral marketing!
- If you recognize that the political process in a democracy is not to make one man king but to give voice to the concerns of all, then a political campaign must be about everyone, not just one man.
- It's much more cost effective to not focus yourself on direct marketing, but on making it easier for your supporters to do their own campaigning. After all, if you represent their pet issue, they will do what they can to put you into office. All you need to do is help them help you.
- Provide more detail in a timely fashion
- Particularly information necessary to allow the grassroots to organize themselves efficiently (e.g. schedules)
Third party services
During the dot.com boom and the subsequent "dot.org" (open source business) boom, there have been many companies operating under a business model of giving away free services in exchange for advertising or back-end deals. While each of their particular business plans is their concern, the benefit to grassroot politics is enormous. Up front costs and technical sophistication can be farmed out to third party experts as long as you are willing to give up total brand control. Even better, in many cases, third parties may be willing to custom brand their service for you for money or the free advertising. Nonetheless, if you recognize the point of political marketing is not equivalent to lifestyle marketing, then it is quite worth the trade off to use third parties in a campaign if they help convince more people to your cause.
e.g. meetup.com; trading advertising
- "The largest component spreading the word – both in money and organization – are the Meetup folks," says Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager. "Meetup has been incredible. Just incredible."
- The Dean campaign is so pro-Meetup, in fact, that among the 17 references to the group on the Dean for America home page, there is a "Meetup host kit," available for downloading, which explains how self-appointed organizers can further help the campaign. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/06/04/politics/main557004.shtml <-- read this article!
As of Sept 9, they have 109 300 members in meetup.com conference, 1/6 of the total meetup.com users.
- upoc.com (wireless group)
E-mail for viral marketing
The concept of viral marketing has been around for at least a decade. It's based on Stanley Milgram's now popularized theory of "six degrees of separation". If you can convince one person, and that person can convince two more people, and so on, you can build exponentially a pyramid of supporters. Research published by Columbia University's Small World project in September 2003 demonstrated unsurprisingly that e-mail relationships follow closely with the simple human relationships that Milgram observed. Inboxes around the world are similarly connected through six degrees of separation.
All of us have received e-mail chain letters and forward jokes in our inboxes. Howard Dean's supporters forwarded campaign messages. Moreover, Dean's messages were tailor-made to particular subcommunities, such as the pro-gay community which constitutes a significant portion of the Democratic party's support. Since people tend to make friends with the same pet issues, it was a simple matter of
Taking advantage of the proliferation of colour printers, Dean's campaign offloaded the cost of printing and disseminating posters onto its supporters by having them foward the proofs of the posters to each other and then
Moreover, because his supporters have access to the electronic proofs of the posters, and since a critical mass of people possess colour printers, Dean's campaign encouraged his supporters to modify the posters with their own messages, not to mention posting pictures of their signs on the campaign website. Average examples include "Gozilla says to join howarddean.com" and "Chihuahuas for Dean". While traditional political organization may balk at the lack of a centralized political message, the effect is one of greater involvement by the grassroots, and consequently a greater emotional commitment. Furthermore, win current times centralized messages inspire cynicism and scepticism, whereas the combined effect of giving up control of even a trivial item as the branded campaign posters and allowing his supporters across the country to show off to each other on his campaign website is to signal just how grassroots his campaign is.
viral web stickers
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- Wireless update lists; up-to-minute updates, schedule changes, etc.
Dean employs the use of left-wing bloggers to drum up popularity in the heavily networked blogosphere.
TV is useless
Dean's Internet Revolution By Dick Morris FrontPageMagazine?.com | August 6, 2003
- After the collapse of the political bosses in the '60s and '70s, it seemed, briefly, that grassroots direct politics would become the new order of the day. In 1964, enthusiastic, young Republicans overthrew their party's Eastern establishment and nominated Barry Goldwater at a raucous convention in San Francisco. In 1972, the young Democrats had their day overthrowing the party elders and nominating George McGovern?.
- But both Goldwater and McGovern? were crushed by the new force of television advertising. Lyndon Johnson defeated the Arizona Republican and Richard Nixon trounced the South Dakota Democrat with a torrent of negative advertising, marginalizing them on the right and left fringes of U.S. politics.
- [...] But the habits that underlay this media domination of politics has ebbed. The top prime-time TV shows now draw 10-15 million households where once they enthralled more than 30 million at a shot. National television news no longer reaches 60 million homes every night, but has to settle for 20 million instead.
"In one day last month, the Dean campaign raised $802,083 on the Internet from more than 11,000 people, including more than 9,000 donors new to the campaign. " http://50.lycos.com/070903.asp
- Campaign website
- Streaming video
- E-Campaign technical online community