Does the Internet matter? Is one voice still capable of being heard in the Clear Channel era?
Yes and Yes.
Tonight, Joe Trippi (campaign manager for the Dean for President campaign) announced that the campaign has raised over $7 million in the second quarter. Is this a big deal? Yes. Governor Dean raised $2.6 million last quarter – far behind Senators Kerry and Edwards (both of whom raised over $7m), Gephardt ($3.6m) and Lieberman ($3m). It now looks like Dean has vaulted over his rivals – outraising them by as much as $2m (we won’t know for sure until the other campaigns announce their results, possibly tomorrow or Wednesday). Most impressive? Not only will he have the largest number of donors, but his per-donor average will be among the lowest – meaning that he’s getting the “little” guys to contribute. Read the comments at the blog — these are people who’ve never participated in presidential politics before. Think they’ll go away? Think again.
How did the campaign do it? No matter how you look at it, the answers all revolve around one word: Internet.
- Meetup.com: growing at nearly 35% per month, MeetUp is providing a base of committed volunteers nationwide. The number of people registered has grown nearly 25% in six days, with more than 47,000 people registered to support Governor Dean.
- Blog for America: The first presidential campaign with a weblog (and the first presidential candidate to personally post to his weblog), Dean showed how a community-driven site that makes supporters feel like they’re a part of the “inner circle” can actually empower tens of thousands of people. (Check out today where Governor Dean was also the first to make an audio-blog post to his weblog!)
- MoveOn.org: With his broad Internet support, Governor Dean was able to mobilize hundreds of thousands of supporters, taking 44% of the first Internet primary last week. Nearly 140,000 people voted for Dean, and it looks like many of those people have signed up to participate in the campaign and donate money.
- Smart Mobbing: I first found out that the campaign surpassed $7m today from a text message sent to my cell phone. The campaign has shrewdly used SMS messaging to alert supporters to late-breaking news (appearances on TV, changes in schedule) and has indicated that this use will increase moving forward.
- An “associates” program: while they can’t give a percentage like Amazon does, they can at least track how many contributions you’ve leveraged — that is, how many people contribute because you ask them to. This is not only another way for the campaign to invite others to build a sense of community around the campaign, it’s also a way for the campaign to recognize those who might not be able to donate the big bucks themselves but who work hard to ensure others give what they can. (You can visit my page if you’re interested in contributing.)
Mark my words: June 30, 2003 is the day that we’ll look back on, years from now, and acknowledge that things changed. Masterfully architected by Joe Trippi, this campaign has executed nearly flawlessly in the last eight days, taking a widely-panned Meet the Press appearance and turning it into a catalyst to the most dramatic eight days in presidential fundraising we’ve ever seen. For once “fundraising” isn’t synonymous with PACs, lobbyists and corporate greed. These dollars come from paychecks — from single parents, teachers, retirees, union members and students.
In announcing his candidacy last week, Governor Dean proclaimed “You have the power to reclaim our nation’s destiny.”
Tonight we proved it. We are a long way from the primaries, even longer from the general election. But in the face of conventional wisdom and in spite of some serious resistance from the party “elders”, we proved Governor Dean right. Let’s keep it up.