Blogland’s Man of the People

Welcome to the many readers of who are showing up here after reading Farhad Manjoo’s article Blogland’s Man of the People about the Dean campaign and the blogosphere.

Since I do quite a bit of writing too, I know there’s a ton of angles on the story that Farhad wanted to address (and we talked about) but couldn’t. So here are some additional points that I think bear mentioning:

  • Money raised online is more valuable than money raised offline. I wrote about this back in May, but I still think it bears more coverage in the press: if offline fundraising (i.e., traditional fundraising) costs up to 80% of the dollars it raises, is there any doubt that the impact of Dean’s online efforts will only magnify with time?
  • Online fundraising is scalable, offline fundraising is not. A candidate can only ever be in one place at one time. Online fundraising ensures the candidate can be in every family room across the country — at the same time. Result? $800k in one day. Imagine what that will look like in the midst of the primaries.
  • The most successful element of the Blog for America site is that it creates a sense of community among the Dean supporters. Result? They’re more connected, they have an emotional investment in the outcome, and are more willing to dig deep when it counts. The campaign continues to leverage this aspect in ways that leave the other campaigns far, far behind. (Farhad asked me: could other campaigns just duplicate what Dean has done? I think not: it’s as much about the culture of the campaign and the character of the candidate that dictates how the strategy plays out; it’s hard for me to see the same community building organically around the other candidates.)

  • The popular rhetorical question the press is asking lately: will Dean’s grassroots support matter? Shame on the unnamed rival campaign who compared Dean’s Meetup attendees to the cantina crew from Star Wars; the 40 people who attended the Meetup in Naperville/Wheaton Illinois last night were an exceedingly normal group of people. We had college students and retirees, parents and single individuals, teachers and union members, executives and a few people who’d been recently laid off. In short — this was a cross-section of voters who are eager to see a change in 2004. And does the grassroots support matter? Those 40 people wrote nearly 70 letters to undecided Iowa voters, joining hundreds of cities around the country who were doing the same thing. Last night history was made — and we’ll do it again next month.

Kudos to Farhad for writing the article (and thanks to Dave Cullen for the pointer in my comments last night). To those of you who are just finding out about the Dean campaign, welcome! We need all the help you can give. To get involved, I suggest:

  • Join the e-mail list. Make sure the campaign knows how to reach you.
  • Sign up for Meetup and join the more than 55,000 Americans who are already supporting the Governor’s campaign.

  • Contribute to the campaign. While this campaign isn’t about money, it’s only with money that Governor Dean’s message can be communicated. Give whatever you’re comfortable giving — the amount is less important than the contribution itself.

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