Archive for October, 2012

Anti-Obama Spam Texts Briefly Flood Swing States

Here’s a quick example of how NOT to do GOTV — a Republican political “operative” (a word that always amuses me) has been flooding swing-state voters’ phones with spam texts detailing how horrible Barack Obama is (he’s in favor of the “gay agenda,” or so I’ve heard). But you thought those weren’t possible? Silly rabbit, the miscreant took advantage of the fact that phone providers typically convert an email sent to a phone number into a text message, a practice that some folks have been pushing the FEC to ban. And here we see why — this guy basically turned email spam into text spam, yum.

Friend-of-e.politics Scott Goodstein (of Revolution Messaging) has been working hard on the issue, and it’s great that he got quotes in both the Politico and Huffpo articles about the text barrage. Turns out the mastermind is a certain “Jason Flanary and his Virginia-based communications firm, ccAdvertising,” (Politico), and that GoDaddy has suspended use of the domains he was sending messages from for “spam and abuse.” In other words, kids — don’t try this at home! Thanks to Shaun Dakin for the initial tip.


2 comments October 31st, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Obama’s Careful — and Pitch-Perfect — Hurricane Sandy Email

This email just arrived in the e.politics bunker, where we’re currently hunkered down waiting for Hurricane Sandy, aka the Frankenstorm, to make DC very cold and very wet.

Subject: Hurricane Sandy

Colin –

This is a serious storm, but we are going to do what it takes to keep people safe and secure, and make sure the communities affected get the assistance they need. FEMA is working with state and local governments to respond effectively. We all owe a debt of thanks to the first responders who will be dealing with the immediate impact of the storm.

If you live in the storm’s path, please listen to state and local authorities about where and how to take shelter and stay safe — and encourage your friends and family to do the same. If you are asked to evacuate, please take that seriously.

For more information on how to prepare for this storm, visit

And if you’d like to find out how to support relief efforts where they’re needed most, please visit the Red Cross or your local relief organization:

Michelle and I are keeping everyone in the affected areas in our thoughts and prayers. Be safe.


Not bad, eh? Responsible, reassuring…one might even say, Presidential? Note that it arrived without campaign or party branding, nor with any fundraising links other than the one above. Which despite the URL, redirects to the Red Cross site. Perfect — give people a chance to act (and to exercise their fundraising muscles) without seeming selfish, a nice counter to the endless “gimme gimme gimme” emails bombarding our inboxes these days.

Honestly, just about anything else would have been communications malpractice; the last thing he needs to do right now is to seem crass . But we’ve seen these things done wrong far too many times, so let’s give credit where it’s due.


1 comment October 29th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Roundup: Internet Responds to Upheaval at Salsa,

Hi, the recent changes at Salsa and have understandably sparked some long discussions on the various progressive activist listservs and other discussion forums; you’ve seen the initial responses earlier (Salsa here, here). Below are other blog posts and commentary that are flying around the web, a list we’ll update as more come in. To suggest a post, either email me or leave the link as a comment.


1 comment October 25th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on Opens its Doors to Conservative Groups, Progressives Run for the Exits

Big news broke in the advocacy space last night: will now begin accepting paid petitions from conservative groups, including Republican political campaigns and anti-abortion groups. In response, progressive activists, who’ve collectively spent millions of dollars cultivating a following, immediately began discussions about moving away from Change. And, it’s competitors were prepared to pounce:’s SignOn petition site, for example, accelerated the launch of its progressive partners program, which makes it easier for organizations to sync their mass-email/CRM systems with databases of new supporters generated via SignOn petition. As shown in the HuffPo piece that broke the story, Care2 also clearly sees opportunity in’s decision. And coming on the heels of startling changes at Salsa, this move has roiled the advocacy community in a big way.

Will the new business bring in enough revenue to make up for the liberal activists who are now feeling outright betrayed by Change? And, will this decision functionally destroy’s entire brand? The company had hired many people from within the progressive movement, who spent months or years of their lives building an online community that will now be open to what they’ll see as greenwashing — corporate propaganda masquerading as activism. Likewise, customers flocked to change because they could use the site to pick up supporters for their causes (since it was identified as a Left-leaning site, you knew the audience you were reaching). Now, all of that liberal time and liberal money is found to have gone to build a tool open to corporate messaging and conservative activism. YEARS of brand goodwill in the progressive community —’s existing customer base — destroyed. Is that smart? Watch this space.

Update I:


3 comments October 23rd, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Learning Social Media Lessons — the Hard Way

Guest article! Kayle Hatt sends this from Canada, where a certain politician should have listened the advice advice he gave in a popular piece:

Long-time readers may remember my August, 2010 post on the need for candidates to be cautious with social media. The sixth practical tip I offered was:

Ask yourself….

6. Can this be misinterpreted? Am I communicating what I want to communicate?

Many social networking posts are space-limited (Twitter is 140 characters. Facebook is 365) and because of space limitations there is a tendency to cut posts. Beware of misinterpretations. Read and re-read your message looking for possible misunderstandings or double-entendres.

Also you many want to consider if you can actually make a nuanced argument or statement on some issues in 140 characters. Perhaps it might be better to make a 300 word blog post on taxes, for example, and then tweet about the blog post including a link rather than making a space-limited-post that could be misinterpreted.

Well, here’s a politician that should have listened to that advice….

In Canada right now there is an issue involving beef recalls from a major Alberta producer. Recently, the company, in the process of dealing with the scandal and starting up again, dumped tonnes of possibly-tainted beef in a local landfill. In response, Alberta Wildrose Party leader (the second-place party — yes, we know, Canada’s complicated) tweeted that the meat could be used to feed the homeless.

As might be expected, there was a little public outrage over this and she retracted the comments, saying the tweet was “a mistake.” Here’s a choice quote: “Smith told an open line radio show that if you can’t explain your position in 140 words on Twitter, you shouldn’t try.” Sounds a little familiar, eh?

Thanks for the cautionary tale, Kayle! We have been warned…. –cpd

Add comment October 22nd, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Audio: In Which Rick Morris and I Solve the World’s Problems in Convincing Fashion

Last week I had the pleasure of (virtually) dropping by the FDH Lounge — internet radio’s finest no-topics-barred discussion show — to chat with host Rick Morris, something I get to do every six months or so. Rick and I agree politically on very little — he’s a self-described Paleo-Conservative and I’m one of those Lefty hippie freaks apparently determined undermine our Nation’s Values and bring about the final victory of our social-overlords-to-be (or something like that). But, we both try to be shockingly intellectually honest and always have a great conversation. A true exchange of ideas? Is that even LEGAL in politics any more?

The show’s audio is embedded below (e.pol readers-via-email, click back to the original post to access it), and when (not IF) you listen in, you’ll hear us talk about everything from Romney’s logic in picking Ryan for veep to the dynamics of the presidential debates to a basic question about whether budget deficits are a moral issue or a policy tool. And, we look ahead a couple of weeks and make our predictions for the Final Outcome on November 6th. Listen now…if you dare.


Add comment October 21st, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Oct. 30th Event at The Press Club: The Online Election — Social Media and the 2012 Presidential Race

Howdy folks, on October 30th I get to take part in what promises to be a terrific discussion about social media and the presidential race at the National Press Club:

The Online Election – Social Media and the 2012 Presidential Race

The 2012 U.S. Presidential Election is like none we have ever seen before. Americans now follow real-time debate commentary via Twitter, advocate for their candidates on Facebook and join Internet memes with Tumblr. Balancing tried-and-true strategies with bold experimentation, the campaigns of both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have invested heavily in social media as part of their fundraising, grassroots and media strategies. They have had to.

This panel will focus on how the 2012 presidential candidates have used social media as part of their campaign strategies, what future U.S. elections will look like as social media become even more predominate, and why communications executives should pay attention to these trends when considering their own clients’ goals and strategies.

Also on the panel:

  • David Almacy (Senior Vice President, Digital Media at Edelman)
  • Alex Howard (Government 2.0 Washington Correspondent for O’Reilly Media)
  • Emily Schultheis (National Political Reporter for POLITICO)
  • Anthony Shop (Managing Director of the Digital Agency Social Driver and Chairman of The National Press Club’s Events Committee)

What a great bunch! Get your tickets fast — initial demand was so high that they had to move us to a larger room, but there are still only a few seats left. Hope you can make it.


Add comment October 19th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Earthquake in the Advocacy World: Management Change Rocks SalsaLabs

Update: Campaigns & Elections has April’s email to Salsa staff. Heartbreaking. Update II: Just days after the big news from Salsa, it became public knowledge that was shedding its progressive/lefty orientation. Read more.

News of a big change at online advocacy tool provider SalsaLabs trickled out yesterday: the company’s founders have been forced out of an active leadership role by its Board of Directors. Chris (Lundberg) and April (Pedersen) are good friends of mine, as are many people who work at the campany or use its products every working day, so I’m honestly somewhat at a loss for words when I think about what happened.

The first question that comes to mind, though, besides worry about Chris, April and Salsa’s other employees themselves, is this: what happens to Salsa, a CRM platform used by thousands of progressive organizations and Democratic campaigns? As Tim Tagaris pointed out on Twitter, “It’d be a real problem if new leadership took development paid for by progressive orgs and started selling to Republicans.” Shades of the controversy around NationBuilder! Salsa’s reply? “Salsa remains loyal to our clients & their missions.”

They’d better — one of Salsa’s brand differentiators is that it’s been dedicated to serving progressive causes, as GetActive was before they were bought by Convio in 2007. And, just as plenty of Lefties fled to Salsa after that acquisition, Salsa would risk alienating a loyal customer base if they abandoned that core mission. This time, though, I’m not sure where progressives would go…but I doubt that market niche would be empty for long.


3 comments October 19th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Romney’s ‘Binders’ of Women Dominate Internet Post-Debate

Ah, sweet internets — you do have a way of picking out salient moments that our Official Information Gatekeepers might have missed in earlier times. Last night’s example? The “binders full of women” that Romney supposedly assembled as he filled his Massachusetts gubernatorial cabinet. Binder jokes exploded on Twitter after that moment in the presidential debate (my fave here), and a meme-collecting Tumblr blog, RomneyBinders twitter feed and Facebook page weren’t far behind.

Note that as of 13 hours after the debate wrapped up, the Facebook page already had 273,000(!) followers — if that’s not a record, it’s got to be close. Clearly Romney’s words hit a nerve, one that’s likely to stay sore through election day (another good line I saw flicker by last night: “Some of Romney’s best friends are women”). And if we had to rely on network news soundbite editors for our post-debate analysis, like we did 20 years ago, that line might just have slipped by unremarked upon. Remember E.J.’s prediction from yesterday — watch Twitter to see how the debate will be spun, respun and otherwise processed after it happens. “Binders” aren’t going away soon, and neither are those women voters looking on the Republican standard-bearer with newly jaundiced eyes.


1 comment October 17th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

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