Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"Ah, The Internet": Using the Web to Reach Voters

"Ah, the Internet." It's changed the face of politics over the past few years and it's ushered in a whole new way for people to get involved in politics local as well as national. And no one has done a better job of harnessing the internet, no candidate, no politician, than John Kerry.

Howard Dean set the model, John McCain is said to be "among the most tech-savvy could-be White House candidates today," former Senator John Edwards "has recruited Dean's Internet communications director," and Hillary Clinton "hired a pair of online writers for her successful Senate re-election campaign this year and has amassed an e-mailing list," but "the recognized Democratic leader when it comes to the Internet is Sen. John Kerry, his party's 2004 nominee."

He has a 3 million-plus e-mail list of supporters, donors and activists.

The Massachusetts senator sent e-mails to supporters more than 300 times between Election Day 2004 and Election Day 2006. He also has used his campaign apparatus to give away $14 million in donations to candidates last cycle. During a two-day period this year, he used his e-mail contacts to raise $900,000 for four Senate candidates.

"This represents the community of activists," said David Thorne, who organized Kerry's 2004 Web strategy and remains an adviser. "These are people who want to be active and supportive of progressive causes. There was no more important progressive cause than getting Bush out of the White House in '04."

Without a major polarizing figure among Republicans in 2008, Thorne doubts Democrats could recreate their Web success.

"I am dubious anyone can build the same kind of list in '08," Thorne said. "There won't be anyone that will create the passion and the intensity that George Bush did in '04."

I have said for a very longtime that Kerry's email list will be hard to match, should he run again, it will multiply and leave others including Hillary Clinton in the dust. While others are catching up to the power of the internet, Kerry has been in the game for 3 years. He's amassed a loyal following of internet activists as well as activists on the ground. Anyone who discounts that is wearing blinders. Sure, it's still anyone's game at this point, regardless of what the pundits predict and the early polls say, but John Kerry's got one big jump on the rest of the Democratic pack and truly the polls are meaningless at this point.


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