Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"I am learning to get online myself" Part II-


via Jonathan Chait

From the Vanity Fair postmortem of the Clinton campaign, it seems that McCain wasn't the only major candidate with big decision makers still living in 1996:
Such was the hubris of Hillary’s team that they discounted Obama as a passing pop star to non-voters. Politico.com reported that at a November 2007 Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa, where 9,000 people showed up, 3,000 were already for Obama. “Our people look like caucus-goers,” Mandy Grunwald sniffed, “and his [Obama’s] people look like they are 18. Penn said they look like Facebook.”

“Did they sleep through the 2003–4 election cycle?” asks an incredulous Joe Trippi, referring to Howard Dean and his new form of communication. As the pioneer who kick-started the bottom-up, low-dollar style of campaigning, tapping grassroots organizers and “newbies” for Dean through the Internet, Trippi was appalled that the Clinton machine stuck with a top-down, status-quo campaign. But the Clintons were out of touch with new forms of communication. Bill Clinton still doesn’t use e-mail or own a BlackBerry.

Why hadn’t they been using the Internet all along as a bulging cash register the way the Obama forces were doing? Hillary’s team had held a retreat in the fall of ’07 to huddle with propeller heads from Google and Yahoo, hoping to update their Internet savvy, but basically gave up on trying. “We tried direct mail but we couldn’t come close to him,” admits one member of Clinton’s brain trust. “Obama tapped a different sensibility. They had a more, uh, viral [i.e., spreads by itself] campaign.” The very word “viral” in his mouth sounded foreign.
Emphasis mine.

Now, me personally, I hope to never work in a job where I need to own a Blackberry to do it properly. I don't want to spend all my time tapping out terse incoherent one line e-mails like those crack heads do... but I understand that some people are important enough that they need to stay in contact with their underlings as they travel about and a cell phone is a little too intrusive and time consuming to manage. Bill Clinton isn't President anymore and he wasn't running for it this year, so maybe he's not one of those people... though if I was donating to his foundation I might wonder about his command and control of the organization.

We only have an N of 3 here, but it does seem that the one campaign that is completely integrated with modern technology is both extremely well organized and message disciplined, while the other two are/were mainly studies in chaos. I don't want to oversell the Power of the Internet, since it is mainly a resource for finding pr0n and posting pictures of your cat... but the contrast is interesting.

photo used under a Creative Commons license by flickr user Dan_H