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Net Politics Come of Age J50 Lecture November 10, 2004 Carole Bell A Brief Timeline of Net Campaigning 1992 1 st presidential campaign sites 1996 Electronic Brochureware 2000 Interactivity & e-mail 2004 Critical Mass 2004 Headlines Video Games With a Political Message

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Net Politics Come of Age

J50 Lecture November 10, 2004

Carole Bell


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A Brief Timeline of Net Campaigning

  • 1992 1st presidential campaign sites

  • 1996 Electronic Brochureware

  • 2000 Interactivity & e-mail

  • 2004 Critical Mass


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2004 Headlines

Video Games With a Political Message


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2004 Considered A Tipping Point

Internet a “driving force in the campaign”

  • Why was 2004 such a pivotal time for the Internet as a force in the presidential campaigns?

  • How was the Internet used in 2004 versus previous years?

  • To what end? What impact did this have?




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2004: Critical Mass

Focus on three key aspects:

  • Money

  • Mobilization

  • Message


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2004: Internet Critical Mass

  • Money

  • Mobilization

  • Message control


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Money: Raising funds online

  • Most expensive election

  • Flow increased to both parties

  • Huge increase in fundraising online

    • 2000 McCain raised $4 million (a record)

    • 2004 Dean >$40 million

    • 2004 Kerry >$56 million ($3m in 1 day)

    • Bush raised $4.2 million during spring 04*

Source: October 2004 Pew Study.

Note: GOP does not release official data.


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Money: Raising funds online

  • Facilitated major growth in small donations

    • Unprecedented number of donations under $200

    • Helped Kerry achieve parity with GOP

    • Fostered grass roots involvement

Source: October 2004 Pew Study.

Note: GOP does not release official data.


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Money: Viral Elements

  • Online fundraisers

  • Site tracked my progress

  • When my contacts donate, I get credit


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Money: Internet Spending

  • Lesser increase in spending/investment by GOP and DEM online

    • Larger budgets for site build and online advertising

  • Online advertising expenditure still just a fraction of television spend

    • $2.7m online media spend by primary players 1-8/04

    • $100m TV in same period


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2004: Internet Critical Mass

  • Money

  • Mobilization

  • Message control


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Mobilization: “The Ground Game”

  • Huge focus on swing states strained resources in other areas

  • Internet filled an important gap

    • Volunteers empowered in non-swing states (N.C.) – plugged in online

    • Some registration and GOTV efforts decentralized

    • Access to central campaign resources – platform, posters, brochures, merchandise, and names


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Mobilization: The Ground Game

  • Personalized home page- “Carole’s precinct”

  • My recruitment and fundraising stats in real-time

  • Always current

  • Suggests activities for me

  • Online chat


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Mobilization: The Ground Game

  • Action center - members could use site to organize events - House parties

  • Viral components

  • Weakness on back-end - raised expectations when some local campaigns not ready for volunteers


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Mobilization: Grass Roots

  • Bottom up, not top down

  • Meetup.com – helped people connect to each other and to campaigns

  • “527” Groups - did more than advertise

    • Continuous calls to action on Internet and e-mail

    • Moveon www.Moveon.org

      • Innovator

      • Different action campaign every week

      • Technology - online conference calls with leaders such as Michael Moore

    • Football fans for Truth

      • http://www.footballfansfortruth.us/index.php


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2004: Internet Critical Mass

  • Money

  • Mobilization

  • Message


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Message: Dissemination

New patterns of information dissemination emerged


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Message Strategy 1: Leverage Influence

  • Emergence of “Online political Citizens” (OPCs)

    • Use Internet to participate in politics

      • visit sites, join discussion groups, read blogs, contribute

    • Internet, media-oriented, e-mail is lifeline

    • Have substantial e-mail networks

Source: IPDI Study


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Online Political Citizens

  • OPCs as powerful communication tool

    • Majority are Influentials (69%) - opinion leaders & trendsetters with friends & neighbors

    • Influentials disproportionately likely to exert “multiplier effect” outward to the public

  • “canaries in the mineshaft for looming political ideas”

Source: IPDI Study


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Virtual Spin Alley

  • OPIs enabled heightened spin control

    • Rapid response teams craft message in answer to opposition and events

    • Teams drive message out to OPCs and OPCs to official sites

    • Sites tools help Influentials get message to their networks and media:

      • E-mail/letter copy for print, talking points for radio, & contact info for media outlets


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Virtual Spin Alley

  • End benefits

    • Message diffusion – increased reach and frequency

    • Message control – Everyone “on message”

    • Counterpoint to/influence on mainstream media


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Message Strategy 2: Make it Funny

Traditional form - editorial cartoons - used in a new way


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Bring Traditional Media Online

Traditional form - editorial cartoons - used in a new way


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Mix New Media and Humor

  • Innovative Internet-only creative

    • The new editorial page

      • Combines information & entertainment

      • New media and humor

      • More irreverent tone compared with traditional media

    • Animation

    • Extended animated weekly series

    • Interactive games


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Humor Messaging

  • Key benefits

    • Can be more effective than traditional advertising

    • Improved message recall

    • Innately viral, popular with “online influentials”

    • Teflon negative campaign

      • Format softens strong political messages

      • Uses surrogates – Survivor not hosted on K-E site

      • Candidates remain at a distance from negativity


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GOP: A Nightmare in the Senate


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RNC: Kerryopoly

Source: GOP Webmaster, Katie Harbath - Communications


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DCCC: Republican Survivor

More than Entertainment – Persuasion

Source: www.driptv.org



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Message Strategy 3: Target

  • Narrow-casting

    • Different message, creative for niche segments

    • More efficient – precise targeting by geography, issues, demographics, less waste

      • Bush: middleclass women and voters in battleground states in May ($403,000 of $419,000 total).

      • Kerry: progressive outlets in metropolitan areas

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project Memo 10/04


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Targeted Ads

  • Online only ads & traditional videos

    • Carry harsher attacks and more loose with their factual claims

    • Also used to drive spin post-debate

    • Viral – “red meat” spread via OPIs

    • Most sponsored by “527s” groups*

    • Begin narrow, but sometimes cross over

      • Political video archive: http://www.ipdi.org/videolibrary/

*Source: IPDI :“Under the Radar and Over the Top”


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Bush-Cheney Coalition of the Wild-Eyed

  • “Kerry’s Coalition of the Wild-Eyed”

  • Video Embedded in E-mail

  • Uses footage of Nazi interspersed with Kerry, Dean, Gephardt & Gore


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527 Ad: Swift Boat Vets For Truth

“Unfit,” Swift Boat Veterans for Truth


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527 Ad: Bush in 30 Seconds

“Child’s Play,” Moveon.org


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Message Impact: Beyond Influentials

How are these messages received?

  • Internet influences information consumption across the board

    • Positive effect on the number of political messages people remember

  • Information market segments

    • Different groups receive info differently


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Message: Info Market Segments

  • Omnivores (43%)

    • Information intense

    • Have heard three or more of the four arguments about each candidate

  • Selective Reinforcers (29%)

    • Filter out contrary information - 29% of respondents who support Kerry or Bush

    • Have heard three or more arguments that favor their candidate, but only two or fewer in favor of the other candidate.


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Message: Info Market Segments

  • Tuned Outs (21%)

    • Support one of the two candidates but tune out of political debates.

    • Have heard two or fewer arguments about either candidate.

  • Contrarians (8%)

    • Support a specific candidate, know comparatively few of the arguments in favor of that candidate

    • But a lot about the candidate they do not support.


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Other Developments

  • Blogging matures

    • Msnbc.com blog awards

    • Conventions provide bloggers with press credentials

  • Monetization

    • Intelliseek, a marketing analytics firm that helps companies and brands measure buzz and word-of-mouth, has launched


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Research Resources

  • IPDI

    • Center for research on Internet and political life

    • Library of online political video http://www.ipdi.org/videolibrary/

  • Pew Research Center Internet and American Life Project

    • Opinion surveys, statistics, analysis

    • http://www.pewinternet.org/

  • Party databases


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Online Readings

  • Internet and Politics

    • Internet and Democratic Debate

    • Grassroots Politics with the Click of a Mouse

  • Political Video Games

    • Video Games With a Political Message


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Net Politics Come of Age

J50 Lecture November 10, 2004

Carole Bell


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