A couple of articles of note popped up this weekend about what I still claim is generally the most useful online political organizing tool: email. First off, judging from Sunday’s Post article on presidentail campaign email subject lines, list exhaustion is already setting in, as campaign staffs are being forced to get more clever in their use of subject lines and senders. Over time, just about any email list “wears out” as addresses go dead and as recipients get tired of seeing campaign messages over and over. Advocacy groups have been dealing with this problem for years, since they frequently build up lists over long periods of time and contact the same activists and donors repeatedly.
In the past, most electoral campaigns have typically lasted only relatively a short time and haven’t have to worry much about list exhaustion, but with this year’s extended political season, Obama, Romney, Clinton, Giuliani, et al, have already been sending emails to the same people for months on end. Getting supporters to click and then to donate is clearly already becoming an issue, and if the campaigns they think the problem’s bad now, wait until the spring and summer, when senatorial, gubernatorial, congressional, and other state and local campaigns get into the list-building and fundraising act. Once the full game is on, cutting through the email clutter will have to become a major concern for online organizers. Here’s a start, y’all: some initial tips for building and managing lists.
Next up, check out this sentence from an article about Mike Huckabee, also in Sunday’s Post:
Without the funds to lay the kind of groundwork other candidates are laying in South Carolina, the former Arkansas governor is relying on a sort of “viral marketing” there, in which supporters e-mail information about Huckabee to their friends, said Rep. Bob Inglis (S.C.), a supporter. By contrast, Romney is blitzing South Carolina Republicans with expensive mailings that highlight his tough stance on issues such as immigration, and has blanketed the state with television ads.
While this is certainly not the first time a campaign has pinned its hopes on supporter activism rather than top-down advertising, the email component is noteworthy. Of course, I bet that Huckabee is counting on a little more than just supporter emails to spread the word — an Iowa or New Hampshire win ought to bring in some cash for a last-minute ad blitz. For more on Huckabee, see why Zephyr Teachout thinks he has the best online campaign.