Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Republicans & the Internet: How to Lose Elections

Joe Trippi, architect of Howard Dean's creative Internet campaign and currently with the Edwards campaign, recently observed that Republicans were getting skunked in 'Net fundraising and list-gathering. Patrick Ruffin on Townhall responded with the following (ominous) comments:

"I agree 100% with Trippi's assessment of the GOP candidates and competition on the net. (Notice how candid he is about his guy Edwards being behind Obama, so this is not just spin.)

There is no underestimating the world of pain we will be in if we don't get the small donor and email list size thing right, and get it right by February 5th [Super Tuesday Primary Day] our nominee can go toe to toe with Hillary (1 million email addresses), Obama (258K donors), or Edwards (Joe Trippi's guy).

What are the GOP campaigns doing about this? Do they even view this as a problem, or are they too bogged down in winning short term tactical victories with high dollar donors and padding cash-on-hand figures? Do they care more about the next quarter, or building a sustainable 50-state, 3,141 county, $400 million-plus movement to take on Hillary or whomever is strong enough to beat her in the primary? Where is the synergy between short-term tactics and long-term strategy?

It's 2007, and the bottom is falling out on direct mail. (And none of the GOP candidates come to the table with a huge housefile anyway, so there shouldn't be a sense of cannibalizing your direct marketing infrastructure.) There's no better time to start prioritizing online over older, increasingly less effective forms of political contact. And yet the response to stuff like this seems to be... crickets.

This isn't a fringe Internet thing. We could lose because we don't correct this, in the same way that we almost lost in 2000 because we forgot door-to-door."

-- Patrick Ruffin

The following is my comment about Patrick's observations:

In my humble view, I blame institutions like Townhall for much of the problem. Somehow, GOP "conservatives" (most of whom spend their time spewing hot air and bashing GOP candidates) think the political answer lies in mobilizing the Hard Right and ignoring the need to build the Party. In the use of the Internet, the GOP is extremely far behind. The Hard Right will make a phone call to a Senator torpedo the Immigration Bill, but it won't contribute $5 to conservative candidates or go door-to-door.

Expressing your "opinion" to Rush or Hugh is all well and good, but preaching to the choir is not a way to win elections. TH has to support efforts to organize in support of conservative candidates -- and get real experts (NOT Richard Viguerie and other ancient types detached from online realities) to explain how to do it.

Obama has 258,000 donors. I doubt ALL the Republican candidates combined have that kind of donor base. Obama got handed to him a MySpace "friends" list of 168,000 people. How many Republicans were even fully aware MySpace existed?

It's way past time for TH to stop agitating the rapidly shrinking Base and start telling people actions they can take to avert the coming disaster.

I've been heavily involved in an Internet-based effort on behalf of Gov. Sarah Palin, and it's paid some nice dividends. Frankly, people should be flocking to this attractive, articulate candidate, but it's been hard slogging. While people are waiting to make their decisions about the national ticket, the Democrats are establishing a powerful foundation to lead them to victory.

The time to make choices about candidates like Sarah is right now -- not after the Democratic horse is long out of the barn. There's no better candidate than Sarah for V-P and there's no chance a better one will somehow materialize.

If the Democrats had a Sarah Palin -- which they don't -- she'd be up on stage battling it out with Hillary, Barack, and John. When they Democrats have someone who's highly electable, they put him or her out there in front of the nation -- as they did at the convention with Obama. We Republicans have a lot to learn when it comes to highlighting candidates like Sarah (and Michael Steele and Mike Huckabbee and J. C. Watts).

If we run people in 2008 whose motto might as well be "Vote for us, because we're old and predictable," then Heaven help us. In the Internet Age, we don't need people who look like they're comfortable with quill pens.

I give a tremendous salute to all the bloggers who have signed up for Sarah and are spending so much time and energy to make sure she gets on the ticket.

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA



thank you...

i sadly have to agree with much of your expression.

last Nov. 2006, i watched some of the biggest names, foolish debase the support for some worthy Republican Conservatives.

we will continue to work and hope for the best.

thank you.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Thanks Hillaryneedsavaction: She does need a vacation -- but I hope she doesn't spend it in the White House! She is a tough campaigner who won big -- twice -- in New York state, and we underestimate her at our peril. Expressing our opinions is fine, but we have to do more than that to win elections. Thanks for the comment. P.S. Look into supporting Sarah Palin for V-P!