Bob McDonnell’s Impressive Online Campaign for Virginia Governor

November 3rd, 2009

If Creigh Deeds manages to pull off a victory in today’s race for Virginia governor, it won’t be because Republican Bob McDonnell was slack online. In fact, McDonnell’s internet campaign has been impressively comprehensive, meaning that state and local candidates can look to it as a model for applying the lessons of 2008. Let’s look at a few of the critical things he’s done right so far:

1. Website

VanishingParadise.org screenshot

McDonnell’s site is excellent from start to finish, with a BarackObama.com-inspired visual style, clear organization and plenty of ways for supporters to get involved. The site works hard to turn visitors into activists through a prominent signup/toolkit section with clear action links — “get a yard sign” or “attend a fundraiser,” for instance, rather than something vague like “get involved” — while also highlighting recent videos, blog posts, campaign news and the campaign’s social media channels. A couple of other notable features: a find-your-local-volunteer-office page, a virtual phone bank and as election day neared, a Google Maps-based find-your-polling-place application.

2. Google Advertising

McDonnell’s been all over Google advertising for months now; his ads first started appearing here on e.politics back in the Spring. As the general election loomed, he launched a full-on Google saturation campaign, to the despair of those on the Left who noticed how much he’s outspent Deeds online (that last article via Brian DeVine). Most of his ads that I saw focused on list-building, and clearly over the long term — an excellent use of the medium.

3. Ning Network

Analogous to the MyBarackObama.com online toolkit of 2007-2008, Bob McDonnell’s Ning network is a custon social space that serves as a platform for political activism and a way for McDonnell supporters to connect with each other. Impressively, McDonnell’s Ning network has picked up over 2500 members, though much of the actual activity (blog posts, video) seems to be campaign-created.

4. Text Messaging

McDonnell’s website and at least some of his real-world outreach actively promote his SMS text-messaging program — I’ve seen “text xyz to [shortcode]” prominently featured on his yardsigns! The website includes a prominent link to the text signup in its action center, and the site’s general signup collects cell phone numbers alongside email, name and zip. I bet those “vote now” messages are flying around today….

5. Social Networking Outreach

Both the Deeds and McDonnell campaigns have actually emphasized online social networks and Twitter, with Deeds in fact updating his Twitter feed personally with the songs he listens to as he drives across the state! But as the Richmond Times-Dispatch also notes, McDonnell has roughly twice as many followers on most social sites as Deeds, a fact that may reflect the relative enthusiasm of the candidates’ supporters as much it does anything about their strategies.

More?

Of course this is just a drive-by look at McDonnell’s campaign; we haven’t examined email fundraising and mobilization, the details of his text messaging campaign, or anything truly behind-the-scenes such as database-driven voter contact. But it’s obvious from the comprehensiveness of his online presence (developed in conjunction with Patrick Ruffini and Mindy Finn at EngageDC) that he’s been determined not to let opportunities in the online political space pass him by.

A few more related links:

cpd

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Political Activity Law &m&hellip  |  November 4th, 2009 at 7:43 am

    [...] Epolitics’ Colin Delany discusses Bob McDonnell’s online efforts here. [...]

  • 2. Effective Republican Use &hellip  |  November 6th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    [...] “Impressive Online Campaign for Virginia Governor.”  [...]

  • 3. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  December 7th, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    [...] Bob McDonnell’s Impressive Online Campaign for Virginia Governor [...]

  • 4. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  December 8th, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    [...] for volunteers by creating custom social networks along the lines of MyBarackObama.com. Bob McDonnell’s 2009 campaign for Virginia governor featured a community based on the Ning platform, for instance, which provided an outreach and [...]

  • 5. The Obama Online Standard&hellip  |  January 11th, 2010 at 9:20 am

    [...] that state and local candidates can look to it as a model for applying the lessons of 2008” says Colin Delany from [...]

  • 6. Postmortems on Bob McDonn&hellip  |  March 21st, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    [...] Delany of e.politics has a campaign outsider’s look at the “impressively comprehensive” Internet campaign, including website, Google ads, Ning private social network, text messaging, and social network [...]

  • 7.  | ProjectVirgi&hellip  |  April 22nd, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    [...] Scores of articles have been written about Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s online prowess during the 2009 election cycle. [...]

  • 8. Social Media and Politics&hellip  |  May 14th, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    [...] is probably the best right-wing case study of best practices in political social media.  His extensive gubernatorial campaign was comprised of a sophisticated website, a good understanding of Google Advertising, the creation [...]

  • 9. The Obama Online Standard&hellip  |  October 29th, 2010 at 10:35 am

    [...] state and local candidates can look to it as a model for applying the lessons of 2008,” says Colin Delany from [...]

  • 10. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  January 30th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    [...] but John McCain’s original 2007 soc net failed completely. In 2009-2010, custom networks spread to statewide races, but organizations thinking about creating their own social networks will want to consider [...]

  • 11. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  July 18th, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    [...] a robust online presence for a whole lot less money than custom development would cost (look at Bob McDonnell’s 2009 Virginia gubernatorial campaign for one example and Scott Brown’s 2010 Massachusetts race for [...]

  • 12. Social Media and Politics&hellip  |  September 15th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    [...] is probably the best right-wing case study of best practices in political social media.  His extensive gubernatorial campaign was comprised of a sophisticated website, a good understanding of Google Advertising, the creation [...]

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