Check out the following guest article for a view of the Brown/Coakley race different from what is rapidly becoming conventional wisdom in the online politics world. My friend (and Blue State Digital staffer) Henri Makembe was on the scene, and while he’s not happy with the outcome of the race, he’s here to defend Coakley’s new media team from accusations that they were asleep at the proverbial switch. For more from Henri, see his LocalPoliTechs site.
In Defense of Martha Coakley’s New Media Team
By Henri Makembe
Running on cheese pizza, RedBull, cold Dunkin Donuts coffee, cookies and the memory of the late Ted Kennedy, I spent the last few days volunteering for Martha Coakley alongside some of the best Democratic new media operatives. Some analysts are describing this as the most important election in the last 50 years — not including presidential contests. Despite our best efforts, Scott Brown won the seat that was held by someone who continues to be regarded as one of best, if not the best, senator of our time. Mr. Brown has some big shoes fill, and while I will be working hard against him in 2012, I wish him and his staff the best for the sake of the people of the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Hi folks, e.politics has temporarily relocated to Salt Lake City, camping out in a swankalicious hotel with a great view of the mountains (a nice change from sleeping on a park bench, believe you me). The goal, besides experiencing how The Other Half lives, is to help with an online politics training for Utah elected officials, along with David All and several other folks knowledgeable in the field.
One excellent bonus — we get to attend the Altitude Design Summit and hang out in the local design scene for a day or two, which should be both educational and fun all around. Trust me, I’ll take good notes during the training and at the conference and write up the juicy bits for all to enjoy. See y’all back in DC on Saturday — after which, I’ll have some very welcome additional news to pass along…
Internet Politics From Both Sides Now. “But win or lose, [Brown has] demonstrated there’s no necessary connection between online organizing and liberal politics. The Web is just like every pre-Internet political arena: ideology matters less than the level of anger at the incumbent party, and the level of enthusiasm an insurgent candidate can generate.”
The fundamental dynamic of the race fell in place months ago, when Brown set off in a pickup truck for the only campaign the Republican could afford: retail, door-to-door. The campaign was so strapped for cash that aides described the $40,000 spent in the primary as a major hit. Brown could not afford to mail out absentee ballots, often so crucial in a close race. “So our program consists of e-mail and Facebook and Twitter,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, a campaign official.
Have a cell phone and want to help Haiti? It’s easy — just Text HAITI to the short-code 90999 and $10 will go to Red Cross and be billed to your account. Within 30 hours of launching the campaign, the Red Cross had already raised over $3 million and set a record for donations via SMS. Is this the beginning of a revolution in electronic fundraising?
The advantages of raising money this way are obvious: people’s phones are usually close at hand, meaning that we can move immediately to convert sympathy into action. And unlike most other forms of electronic donations, texting to a short code doesn’t require a credit card or even a bank account (a bartender friend of mine has neither but was still able to send in his $10).
Kate links to the Huffington Post version of the article, which shows why it’s a good idea to publish articles like this one far and wide — you never know where someone’s going to find you. And while this means that Epolitics.com itself isn’t getting a direct traffic boost (or any Google Juice) out of the link, a quote in a top-level site like Salon never hurts. Very cool all around.
Looking for something substantive to read over the three-day weekend? Check out Ari Melber’s new analysis of Organizing For America, the successor to the Obama campaign’s grassroots list, published over at tPrez and produced in association with Personal Democracy Forum. Ari’s done a terrific job of interviewing stakeholders involved in the evolution of the Obama organizing machine, including OFA members themselves and Congressional staff who’ve been targets of their activism.
In particular, Ari highlights the distinct differences between this “permanent field campaign” and the traditional activities of political parties between elections. I’m only partway through digesting the report, but this section of the conclusion nails the long-run implications: