Thursday, May 8, 2008

How the snooze button is effecting the Republicans

The Web has turned presidential politics into an interactive experience, making donations as easy as a mouse click, transforming volunteering from wherever you could find something locally to now your living room or office. In addition, the online donors are not just passively giving but rather proactively participating in these campaigns and this is the reason the Democrats have moved to capitalize on the infinite resources the Web has to offer.

However, the Republican Party is a different story. The majority of McCain’s online staff was let go last fall and his minimalist website was weak, to say the least. Moreover, the McCain blog hasn’t been updated in months, many options and tools aren’t even there and the social networking feature, called “McCainSpace”, is far from finished. It is almost insulting when you go to his website to find a page that only asks for money and simply broadcasts the campaigns message, offers press releases and a few videos. Needless to say the Republicans have a lot of catching up to do and they better start quickly.

People are going on their home computers seeking out Obama’s website. There they can create a personal Web page to connect with other Obama supporters in their area. Once assembled they are assigning themselves tasks throughout the country with guidance from the campaign website. They are also downloading phone lists in order to call potential supporters in the area as well as typing names and addresses into Obama’s national database. Hillary and Obama’s paid campaign staff are finding that when they arrive to these places, weeks later, there is already a well organized campaign machine up and running.

It is estimated that people are spending as many as 25 hours a week volunteering for Obama and it’s because they feel like they’re making a difference and they enjoy that sense of involvement. What is even more impressive is that his online fund raising surpassed the 100 million mark in the first three months of the year, and his You Tube videos have been viewed 37 million times. It has been said that, “Obama’s campaign exploits the biggest shift in national politics since the rise of television.” Obama's website is geared toward engagement, prompting volunteerism as the real difference maker. “Everything Obama does is fundamentally about a people powered democracy and a people powered campaign.”

On the other hand, McCain is still heavy on the traditional methods, spending a lot of time in hotel ballrooms, charming wealthy donors with traditional chicken dinners and fruit platters mixers. In March he attended twenty-six fundraisers in twenty-four cities, raising nearly 15 million, with roughly one third of it coming from the web. However, Obama attended only six events in the same period, yet his campaign raised three times as much.

So my question to the McCain is this:
As we enter a time when you can get by without owning a TV due to the Web, how could you not tackle the Internet issue head on?

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