Prop 8 Battle Shows that the Left has No Monopoly on Internet Activism

April 14th, 2009

Online politics a progressive monopoly? Not in California, at least judging from the battle waged over the internet to pass Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that banned gay marriage in that state:

The coalition used the Web to fuel fundraising, volunteerism, and voter persuasion, and two tactics in particular may have given them an edge: online ads targeted using voter file data, and a last-minute get-out-the-vote ad blitz.

The “Yes on 8″ campaign got attention, not only for taking a forward-thinking and integrated approach to using the Internet, but for demonstrating that having a younger, more liberal base doesn’t necessitate Web prowess. Schubert-Flint Public Affairs, the firm that ran the overall campaign, along with its Internet ad and e-mail strategy partner Connell Donatelli, recently won multiple awards from the Association of Political and Public Affairs Professionals for its digital “Yes on Prop 8″ campaign.

The Left’s success online in the past three election cycles risks complacency, but it’s a simple fact that the tools don’t care who uses them. The web is a natural haven for the out-of-power — part of its brilliance is that it can make mighty the small and small the mighty — and just as Democrats and progressives began working online in earnest after they lost Congress and the White House, Republicans will naturally use new media to create channels for organizing and message-distribution now that they’ve been pushed out of institutional authority.

And we won’t just find Republican leaders and the party apparatus online: individual conservative activists can learn from Obama’s online organizing as fast as their liberal counterparts (Ron Paul’s supporters certainly did their part to lead the way). Something from this piece a year or two old still holds true:

At the moment, liberals and Democrats are ahead online by most measures — they far outpace conservatives and Republicans in blog activity, political donations and social networking participation, for example. But down the road, the web is going to be intertwined into just about all forms of information exchange, and it’s only a matter of time before the Republican electorate is as wired as their Democratic rivals…. The next online revolt might just come from the Right.

You have been warned!


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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kevin Bondelli  |  April 14th, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Thanks for this, Colin. I have been worried for a while now that Democrats and the left are going to get out-hustled because of overconfidence. There is this mindset that the Right is physically unable to use new technologies effectively, when it is simply not true. We just happened to beat them to it. Now they have a fire under them to innovate and we are getting lazy.

    I think we should have learned by now that we shouldn’t underestimate our opponents

  • 2. links for 2009-04-15 &hellip  |  April 15th, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    [...] e.politics: online advocacy tools & tactics ยป Prop 8 Battle Shows that the Left has No Monopoly… [...]

  • 3. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  June 10th, 2009 at 11:13 am

    [...] broader lesson for Republicans and others out of power — yes the mechanics matter, but having the right tools is no more important than having the right person with the right [...]

  • 4. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  September 28th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    [...] imbalance will not last! As usual, the tools don’t care who uses them, and neither Democratic nor Republican campaigns have inherent advantages online, other than the [...]

  • 5. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  December 7th, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    [...] Prop 8 Battle Shows that the Left has No Monopoly on Internet Activism [...]

  • 6. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  December 15th, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    [...] should we make of these developments? First, they show for the umpteenth time that the tools don’t care who uses them, and that the Left has no monopoly on internet organizing. Tea Partiers can learn from Obama just [...]

  • 7. JCL  |  June 10th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Does anyone know a good CRM for non-party candidates?

  • 8. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    [...] megaphone and Republicans of all stripes flocking to Twitter in 2009-2010. The tools are open to anyone with the time and/or resources to use them, and any side that thinks it has a monopoly on internet activism is likely to be disabused of that [...]

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