Just got interviewed by Farhad Manjoo at Salon.com, who I’ve spoken with in the past and who wanted to know whether I felt that Dean’s defeat in Iowa meant that the Internet “lost” Iowa, or whether the Internet’s ability to make a difference was overblown.
No on both counts. The Internet proved you could mobilize over 3,000 individuals from around the country to stand up for what they believed in. Trust me — getting anyone to go to Iowa in January is a task (no offense Iowa, but it’s a bit chillier in Iowa than it is in, say, Texas). That the campaign did this — and gave the volunteers something to do, gave them a voice, gave them a feeling of being involved — is a testament to how the Internet can drive participation in the process.
As I said to Farhad, if we’d won, we’d all be crowing about the fact that the Internet made the difference. But we didn’t, so there you go.
Will the Internet make a difference? It already has. Dean’s organization, coupled with his money lead, mean that he’s in the race through the primary season. He’s no longer the front-runner (only Kerry can claim that mantle now) and can take a breather and regroup. But the Internet is what made the organization and fundraising possible, so for what that’s worth, we already have our impact.
If Iowa teaches us anything, it’s that organization matters if (and only if) you stay in control of your message.