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July 23, 2005

Who cares about the internets?

As you are undoubtedly well aware, Deval Patrick recently undertook a massive blog outreach effort, giving interviews to .08, Eisenthal, and the three of us here at BMG.  His campaign also approached Left in Lowell and Cape Ann Dem, and possibly others, and we look forward to seeing the results of those interviews as well.

We wondered whether other campaigns might be interested in doing the same thing - after all, Howard Dean does seem to have shown that you can generate a lot of money and a lot of interest by undertaking a sophisticated internet-based campaign, and the phenomenon of internet-based activism, whether via blogging or otherwise, is only going to grow in importance.  So we sent an invitation to Tom Reilly's campaign a couple of weeks ago wondering whether he might be interested in holding a similar conversation.  So far, nothing.  [cue crickets chirping]

In addition, in an effort to find out more about the candidates for the Second Middlesex Senate seat, earlier this week we sent a brief questionnaire to the four major Democratic candidates (Pat Jehlen, Paul Casey, Michael Callahan, and Joe Mackey) asking them to elaborate on three issues important to the "progressive" community (health care, education, and transportation).  Jehlen's campaign responded promptly and promised she would answer [UPDATE: and Mackey's campaign has said he would answer as well].  Nothing from the others so far.  (To be fair to Callahan, I had to snail mail his since I could not find an email address for him, so he's probably only receiving the questionnaire now.)

I very much hope that we get a response from Reilly and from the Senate candidates, since I welcome any opportunity to find out more about where the various candidates stand on "the issues."  But I also think that a campaign's decision as to whether or not to respond at all says quite a lot about how that campaign intends to operate, and who it sees as a possible source for voters.  So far, Patrick and Jehlen [UPDATE: and Mackey] have indicated that they think Howard Dean was really onto something (I don't care what you think about Dean on the merits - his biggest accomplishment in the '04 campaign was on process, including raising a ton of money, not on substance).  The others, as of yet, not so much.

Maybe the traditionalists are right.  After all, George Bush won in 2004 despite the Dems thinking that they had learned what made Dean's campaign tick.  And Mike Moran won the Allston/Brighton/Brookline special election despite Tim Schofield's more aggressive outreach to the "progressive" internet-based community.  But Schofield came really close (64 votes) - a lot closer than he would have come otherwise, given Moran's lifelong roots in the community and his endorsements from both the Globe and the Phoenix.  And, it is said, Schofield's strong presence in the race pushed Moran to adopt more "progressive" positions on certain issues (including but not limited to gay marriage) than he otherwise might have.

So a sophisticated internet operation may or may not be outcome-determinative in these kinds of races, but I think there's little doubt that the internet matters, and that it will matter increasingly as time goes on.  Seems to me that the candidates who get that now will be better positioned in the future than those who don't.

Posted by David at 10:57 AM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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My guess is that the traditionalists are right. Or at least that the Dean-style net-grassroots model is useful but overhyped. Still, Reilly and the others are fools if they avoid any blog exposure. I'd certainly be interested in reading your all's interview.

Posted by: Chris | Jul 23, 2005 10:15:42 PM

I think the 'net probably has influence, but that influence has yet to prove itself to be a determining factor in winning races. Dean didn't win. DailyKos's Kos Dozen candidates all fizzled. Schofield came awfully close, but no cigar. I won't speculate what our influence on that race was: Tim's a good guy and seemed to run a good campaign, so it seems that he should get a lot of credit for that.

But I think we ask questions of our candidates that have a little more idiosyncratic texture than the typical big media coverage, which tends to be about the horserace and maneuverings of power. If Reilly, Galvin, or Mitt *want* to communicate that way, then a blog is as good as any. Patrick feels that he has to, because it's how he distinguishes himself from the pack. And he apparently does have a substantial ground operation as well, so it seems that he's not ignoring the traditional campaign methods.

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | Jul 24, 2005 8:54:24 AM

I'm interested in Jehlen's campaign, so I hope she responds. That is a very interesting race....truly contested.....so it will be interesting to see what happens.

I agree with people that the "impact" of blogs, internet etc. have not been totally realized, but remember how short a time this has been going on. I "heard" about bloggers in '04, but had never read a blog. Now I have my own and read others all the time. so it's growing and more mainstream types are starting to pick it up. We've gone from the "innovator" group to the "early adopter" group.

I noted in my blog last night that I think Reilly is taking a page out of Patrick's playbook and trying to be more human. So there's a circular effect to all this too....so maybe even old Tom will get on the "internets!"

Posted by: Margie | Jul 24, 2005 9:24:48 PM

You guys have a high opinion of yourselves. (Sorry) Have you been on the phone to Reilly's press secretary? There are a lot of different media's through out the state reaching a hell of a lot of voters out there and Reilly has to wisely allocater his time. He is a.g. too. Media outlets acrtoss the state which haven't already given a knee jerk semi-endorsemnt of Deval Patrick are many. You send a invite. By mail? e-mail? No follow-up. And now you are miffed because your arse has not been kissed.
Another thin g about patrick - Wayne Woodlief column in herald last week. Patrick will "call in" to thew house parties his volunteers were trying to schedule.
That tells me he will lose this race.
Time to jump off his bandwagon boys.

AS for your wriiten questionere to senate candidates. What joke.
Again do you know how many questioneres candidates get. My advice to candidates is to throw them in the trash. They are from groups with an agenda and no good can come of it. Kudos to those who did not respond, that shows me they have the wear with all to be a state senator.

Posted by: the troll | Jul 25, 2005 9:59:51 AM

Oh, grouchy grouchy grouchy. I'm not miffed when people don't respond to our invitations - rather, I'm pleasantly surprised when they do. So far Mackey and Jehlen have said they'll answer our questions, which is great; as you said in a different thread, Casey seems to be a no-show in this race anyway; and I suspect that Callahan has other priorities - though I'd of course be delighted to hear from him.

Posted by: David | Jul 25, 2005 10:27:04 AM

Do you believe that Call;ahan has a cvhance of getting more then 2 votes through this blog. Seriously, do you?
Why then shoul;d he respond. Jehlen and Mackey are preaching to the converted. Nothing but a love in with them.
As for invite to reilly I would expect yopu work to get the sit down before complaining.
David, you said nothiong about Deval "the celebrity who will honor us with a call in to his own party" Patrick.

Posted by: the troll | Jul 25, 2005 1:12:24 PM

Well troll, you said it yourself: Patrick's campaign called us, and Reilly's hasn't responded to *our* invitation yet. Hey, maybe we don't matter enough to Reilly, and I can't really begrudge him that; it's a strategic decision -- or non-decision. But if he gives us an interview and says things we like, we'll get all gushy for him, too. Why not?

And aren't you the kind of guy who wants the candidate to reach out to the voters, not vice-versa? You're criticizing Patrick for just *calling* house parties, but defending Reilly for not responding to us? Consistency, please.

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | Jul 25, 2005 7:37:32 PM

Absolutely criticizing Patgrick for calling in house parties. This is not an example of a badly run campaign it is the icon. Do you guys not get it. Campaigning is not acting like a celebrity. Patrick will get zero benefit from these call in hoiuse parties.
Galvin looks at this and laughs. He says"I can;t believe how lame these dem candidates are" Reilly sucks and Patrick doesn't get it.
I see Galvin making a move in fall and blowing by these guys, for nbo other reason then he is much smarter politically then they are.

Posted by: the troll | Jul 27, 2005 1:08:22 PM

Sorry Charley, don't you see the differnce in organozing a hundred house parties across the state so candidate can meet small groups of people in casual setting v. going to a self -important blog that reaches small number of people that for the most part have already made up their mind they are with Patrick.
Patrick does not get it. Neither does Howard Dean.
When will you people learn.
P.S. The more I see of all candidates the more I think Galvin gets the nomination

Posted by: the troll | Jul 27, 2005 1:13:39 PM

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