December 7th, 2009
The Conclusion of How Candidates Can Use the Internet to Win in 2010
Winning in 2010
2010 will not be 2008: for one thing, we aren’t likely to see the massive voter turnout that helped put Barack Obama in the White House. As in other political off-years, the 2010 results will swing on the decisions of a relatively small number of voters, an effect magnified down the chain — the smaller the race, the more effect a handful of votes can have. This kind of environment obviously encourages a focus on getting as many core supporters to the polls as possible.
As we’ve seen, the internet absolutely excels at maintaining connections with individual voters and at energizing them to recruit their friends, donate their money and volunteer their time. The 2010 elections won’t be determined by the internet alone (candidates and ideas do matter!), but campaigns that employ online strategies intelligently and with real-world goals in mind should have a significant edge over their rivals, particularly in tight races.
This is a year in which state- and local-level politics will count. Not only will the new Congress help determine the fate of Barack Obama’s remaining political agenda, but the state legislators who take their seats in 2011 will redraw political districts across the country, a process destined to shape our political landscape for a decade to come. Now that you’ve read this guide, YOU have the tools to influence how those elections turn out.
A Basic Online Oureach Plan
Now that we understand the essential tools and tactics of online political organizing, let’s put them together into a coherent plan to win an election.
Phase One: Getting Established
At the start, campaigns need to focus on getting the basics right, a process that may take from a few days to a few weeks. The initial steps:
- Begin monitoring the race; set up Google Alerts on the candidate and opponent.
- Build and launch website with integrated supporter signup/CRM/fundraising system (see Chapter Two).
- Establish Facebook (and MySpace?) profiles and connect with local political activists.
- Establish YouTube channel with initial content (even if only a single clip).
- Establish Twitter account and blog, if campaign will be using either or both.
- Identify relevant (usually local) political blogs based on audience and topic.
- Identify other prominent online voices, including Twitterers, videobloggers and frequent commenters on local political sites.
Phase Two: Feeding the Beast
With an infrastructure in place, a campaign moves into the long middle period between the candidate’s announcement and the actual voting. List-building and fundraising will be usually be the highest priority, supported by outreach and content creation.
- Integrate website promo into all print materials and broadcast advertising.
- Recruit new supporters/list members at in-person events.
- Begin online advertising, particularly on Google but also on blogs and local media sites.
- Begin comprehensive email-based online fundraising via CRM.
- Solicit and organize supporters’ volunteer time, also via CRM but possibly through custom social network.
- Expand/improve campaign website content.
- Expand connections on social networking websites and Twitter; post new content regularly.
- Encourage supporters to spread the word and recruit friends through their online and offline channels.
- Post additional online videos to YouTube profile and campaign website as needed and as available
- Build relationships with local bloggers, Twitterers and other online influentials, with an eye to pitching stories and arranging opportunities to speak directly to their audiences.
- Continue monitoring independent online content posted about the race; respond as necessary and able.
Phase Three: Run-Up to Election Day
Once an election is close, an online campaign will shift into full mobilization mode.
- Begin final push for volunteer involvement, including block-walking and phonebanking.
- Begin early/absentee voting push, if applicable.
- Send final fundraising appeals.
- Encourage last-minute supporter online evangelism on Facebook, personal email, etc.
- Ramp up email campaign intensity via CRM to support all of the above activities.
- Online advertising may switch to encouraging early voting and connecting people with polling places.
- On Election Day, send final appeals via email, social networking outlets, text messaging, campaign website, Twitter and other channels. Hope for the best.
- After the election, send follow-up message to supporters.
For More Information
Other Guides from E.politics
- Scott Brown’s Massachusetts Insurgency Shows How Online Organizing Has Shifted the Political Calculus
- The Online Strategy Behind Scott Brown’s Victory, Plus Details on His Massachusetts Moneybomb
- Scott Brown Used Google for Field Organizing, Not Just Advertising
- More on Scott Brown and Internet Politics and More Brown/Coakley Online Politics Post-Mortems
- Bob McDonnell’s Impressive Online Campaign for Virginia Governor
- Learn from this City Council Candidate
- Video: Applying Obama Online Lessons to State, Local and Advocacy Campaigns
- Ten Ways to Blow It Online in 2010
- Inside the Obama Numbers: Tiers of Engagement
- Two-Thirds of Obama’s Online Fundraising was Via Email
- Reaching the “Network Influentials”
- Content was Key (and Overlooked) Part of Obama’s Online Juggernaut
- An Internet Politics Index to David Plouffe’s The Audacity to Win
- The Enduring Value of the Online Communications Tripod
- Digital-Age Media Relations: Pitching Stories in a Challenging News Environment
- What a Modern Communications Team Looks Like
- Measuring the Effects of Social Media Marketing
- Ten Rules for Blogger Outreach
- Targeted Facebook Ads Aren’t Just for Big Political Campaigns
- You’ve Got a Friend in Barack Obama: Integrating Social Networking Tools into Political Campaigns
- The Enduring Power of Small Online Donors
- Obama Campaign Saw “Ridiculously” High ROI from Google Ads
- Getting the Most Out of Google Ads and Other Pay-Per-Click Advertising Campaigns
- Online Politics is Usually Trench Warfare, Not Blitzkrieg
- An Impending Explosion of State-Level Online Politics?
- Why State-Level Online Politics Really Matters in 2010
- Online Social Networks in Politics: Promise, Frustration and…
- Twitter is NOT a Strategy
- Creating Effective Political Video for the Web
- Social Media for Elected Officials
- If You Want to Change Congress, Fund Challengers’ Staff Early
- Obama Campaign’s New Media Staff was NOT a Part of the Tech Team
- David Plouffe: The Obama Campaign Used Grassroots Data and Computer Modeling to Allocate Resources in Real Time
- Illuminating the Presidential Campaigns’ Internet-Driven Ground Game
- After the Debates: Using the Internet to Win at the Water Cooler
- Obama Email Pushes Voter Registration
- Obama’s Texting for Turnout during the Potomac Primary
- Checking In On Presidential Online Advertising, Pre-Indiana and NC
- Citizen 2008: Using the Internet for Individual Political Advocacy in the Elections and Beyond
- Don’t Copy this Al Gore Email
- Prop 8 Battle Shows that the Left has No Monopoly on Internet Activism