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View Diary: The legacy of McCain-Feingold (174 comments)

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  •  Great Analysis (3.71)
    This puts a number of pieces together into an unusually clear argument for why the blogosphere and small dollar donors matter more than before.

    Still, I think there is real risk of oversimplification here. All candidates had websites and could gather money over the internet. The blog made a difference for Dean, but the candidate was an essential ingredient here. Dean didn't just excite because he seemed like a true Democrat. Lots of folks, myself included, didn't consider ourselves Democrats before jumping on board with Dean.

    A number of qualities came together in Dean, and in Clark, that allowed a huge influx of dollars. These candidates came across as fresh, honest, and smart. They proposed innovative solutions that made sense after careful analysis. I realize it's hard to tell politicians that the way to win internet support is to find a candidate who speaks like an ordinary, thoughtful person and proposes pragmatic, innovative solutions which can be seen to promote social justice and economic prosperity. But that is as important as getting a blog and acting like a "true Democrat."

    •  Follow-up to JD (none)
      I think JD is right that the results would not have been the same without Dean and Clark as candidates. I'm not trying to make a broad statement or draw any definitive conclusions, but I see more than the simple changes that kos points out.

      First, the candidates.  

      The internet community, still an undefined mass of "who are these guys?" is definitely not the same as "Americans."  But they are a hell of lot more like the country as a whole than the handful of elites and devoted party voters ("Party Regulars") that run and participate in party activities.  I haven't seen actual numbers, but I would guess that members of the internet communicty are more numerous and more diverse than consistent primary voters.  

      And I think we may have discovered something interesting.  They not only want different candidates than the Party Regulars, they want a different kind of candidate and a different kind of campaign.

      Using another over-simplified "medium is the message" analysis.  The almost total dominance of TV ads and TV news shows in large scale political campaigns calls forth a particular kind of person (e.g., Short, fat bald guys have no chance of being elected president), and a particular type of campaign (sound bites, etc.,).

      I think the fact that the emerging influence of internet communications allowed one candidate, Dean, to go far beyond anywhere he could have gone in an exclusively TV ad/TV news campaign.  And, it allowed another candidate, Clark, to get anywhere at all.

      Second, the small contributors.

      A lot of small contributors made several donations.  I gave Dean a total of $1200, but it was spread over 11 months.  Before this campaign, no one, not even me, would have considered me a $1000 contributor.  I don't think anyone considers $1000 a small contribution.

      I am not sure what this will mean for anyone in the future.  I am guessing, but surely do not know, that the Dean people who, like me, were repeat contributors are not likely to do the same for the DNC or for Kerry.  Too much pain at this point.  But for the future?  Having done it once, we could probably be convinced to do it again.

      So, my tentative and sure to be modified conclusion is that there is a lot of money available, but it is not going to go to the same old same old candidates and campaigns that we are all used to and tired of.

      •  Identifying the blogosphere (none)
        The internet community, still an undefined mass of "who are these guys?"

        Wouldn't it be interesting to run a survey of Kos regulars to answer this question? Simple demographic/socioeconomic statistics....age,race, gender, education, household income. Do we resemble the electorate as a whole?

        •  Or... (none)
          Do we resemble a demographic, a base, that the Democrats ought to die to get a lock on?

          In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. -- Thomas Jefferson

          by ogre on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 07:33:21 PM PST

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          •  Can they? (none)
            My thoughts on this are not fully formed (and yet, I share them with strangers!).  But at first blush, the answer is yes, of course the Democratic Party would die to get hold of the people who became active this year mostly through participation in the internet community.

            To some extent, and certainly in my case, the Democratic Party already has a hold on me.  I was an active Democrat before I ever owned a PC.

            On the other hand, the internet community probably includes a lot of people who either don't like or don't feel completely comfortable with party activism, as opposed to activism for a particular candidate or cause.  That may be the reason for the low expectations that Party Regulars have expressed and continue to express toward the internet activity.  They say, it's nice, but . . ."  And with Dean's demise, many Party Regulars feel that their original skepticism is justified.

            I think that's not true and, based on the resources and talent applied to the DNC website, for one example, there are apparently some Party Regulars who agree.  They are reaching out to the internet community.  They will not be able to show the rapid response that we on the net are used to and expect, but they are, after all, professionals.  They are focused on what works at electing candidates.

            So, while the Dean campaign did not succeed, it got close enough that there are going to be plenty of party and candidate efforts to repeat the positive results.  The candidates, the parties, the electorate and the country are going to be affected by it.

            This going to be great.

        •  Would be nice (none)
          It would be nice to know more about who exactly comprises the internet, but I am not sure anyone can really know.  

          I've been involved in politics at one level or another throughout my adult life, and I can tell you for certain that the people who are active in the two main parties, and especially those involved with third parties, people I call Party Regulars, are nothing remotely like the general population.

          The internet community is almost certainly more diverse, but I'm sure it over-represents some portions of the population and under-represents others.

          There is some overlap of Party Regulars and the internet community.  I'm part of both.  But the internet drew new people into the campaigns and some of them are going to stay.

        •  Yes it would. (none)
          Wouldn't it be interesting to run a survey of Kos regulars to answer this question? Simple demographic/socioeconomic statistics....age,race, gender, education, household income. Do we resemble the electorate as a whole?

           Some of this has already been done. A couple of months ago we determined that the blog was about 1/3rd female and 2/3rds male. We did an age poll too which indicated that the ages were pretty well distributed although I wasn't too satisfied with the categories in that poll.
          I don't know about race but, as far as I can tell, the blogs are very white.
          Household income would be an interesting poll. My guess is a median of 50-75k. Occupational categories would be interesting...

          My guess is that this blog is whiter, more wealthy and way more male than the dem electorate as a whole.  

          "...the definition of a gaffe in Washington is somebody who tells the truth but shouldn't have." Howard Dean

          by colleen on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 11:20:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Who we are (none)
            I guess I missed that poll. I'd have to agree with your guess on what we look like (male, white, educated and relatively well-off), but statistics would still be great. A cross-blog poll of all the top progressive blogs would be even better, if you could somehow control for visitors on more than one blog.
    •  Other Things They Did Right (none)
      Over time I also gave Dean more than I would have thought possible, maybe $500 between August and February. One thing that helped A LOT was "The Bat." It seems silly, but a goal never hurts and a purpose for the goal never hurts. Like any fundraiaing telethon on radio or TV you need short term goals ($5000 in the next half hour and we get to stay on the air another 6 months!) That kind of thing. Plus, you generally had an idea of what it would be spent on (which is why so many of us on the 'blogforamerica' started getting upset when we saw the kind of crap ads Dean was running.) You can not overstate the importance of 'the bat' to get those donations to come pouring in! (Didn't dean raise another 1.4 million the week before he lost Wisconsin?) And all the rest of course: the candidate, the circumstatnces, etc. But if the Democratic Party wants to garner the kind of finacial support Dean got from just a Half a million people, they are going to need to be much more open about the amount of money they are raising and how it's being spent. And they'll need lots and lots of "Bats."

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