Disruptive Party Building: From a Straw to a Funnel
May 15, 2008
The evolution in field and the reimagining of politics continues apace. Back in May, 2007, I pointed to this quote from David Plouffe.
"Don't get me wrong," said David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager and Rospars's boss, "the Internet is a powerful organizing and fundraising tool, and it's getting more and more important every day, but it's still not the persuasion and message tool that TV is."Though I criticized him at the time, I believe Plouffe was correct. Obama's speech on Wright was perhaps a singular messaging moment for the internet, and the pushback on the gas tax came from the internet. But by and large, the messaging from Obama has been TV messaging, and it has worked. Plouffe was correct about the internet's impact on field, as I noted at the time.
Social networks will be combined with voter files, which have seen dramatic improvements since 2000. And fundraising, field, and media will have converged. Candidates will be putting out youtube clips early to raise money, identify supporters, and win primaries. All of this has been tested already, and it works.
Rock the Vote, in 2004, registered 1.2 million voters with a simple online voter registration download tool. That's more than twice as much as they had ever registered in any other cycle, including the youth-spike year of 1992...
The number of 18-29 year old voters who voted in 2004 versus 2000 jumped from 15.8 million to 20.1 million, an increase of 4.3 million. With Facebook, MySpace, and Youtube turning intensely political, it's pretty clear that voter registration, and specifically, being able to count voter registration and compete over it, will be a killer app.
Finally, field will be at least in some part measurable and put online. Facebook alone has 22-24 million members, and is growing at 150,000 members a day. MySpace is over 100 million. And though it's unclear how many of these user accounts are citizens and how seriously they take participation in these public spaces, the fact that there are these public spaces, and that they are gargantuan, is a game-changer. My guess is that the opinion leaders in these communities are traditional pundits and stars, but it doesn't have to be this way, and bands and bloggers are in the mix as well.
If Rock the Vote experiences the type of growth of regular Web 2.0 startups like Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, Youtube, etc, there's no reason that 18-29 year old voting block can't expand its share of the electorate by 3 or 4 points. This would swing Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, Iowa, and Ohio. And it would put North Carolina, Virginia, Missouri, and Arkansas into the swing category, while pulling New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania out of swing state territory.