category: Political IT

Woo a Voter

by admin at 12:02am, December 9, 2008 | E-Campaign, New Media, Political IT, Voter Contact

Interestingly enough the internet and the buzz word of the last year “new media” (I personally dislike the term but for lack of better option I will use it here) has brought back retail politics. Retail politics involves knowing everyone in the community in which you get elected and as of late has been replaced by brute force political machinery where quantity over quality is king.

If there is one thing people have learned from the most recent election is that the electorate needs to be “wooed” not blasted. “Woo” means talking to single mothers about health care and not second amendment rights, talking to home owners about loan assistance and not just tax credits – “woo” means intelligently speaking to voters on an individual level not just finding the most common denominator among the electorate.

The capabilities of internet and new media replaces chicken dinners, pancake breakfasts, coffee clatches, school symposiums and state fair booths with facebook pages, blog updates, twitter feeds, youtube videos, and the ever popular email news letters. The key for campaigns it that these tools accomplish the exact same principles as retail politics but at a micro-fraction of the cost, time, and campaign infrastructure.

Let me be clear, the answer is not to open up 5 social networking accounts, pick up a twitter account and populate it with regurgitated press releases, or send out incessant emails of the same canned dribble. Rather come up with a top to bottom strategy that fits your style and more importantly your electorate – if you don’t think you can handle this there are plenty of great people out there who can help you do it.

A top to bottom strategy includes not only communicating outward but gathering information. Keep this in mind as one of the great things about “new media” is the multi-way conversation that goes on and if you can’t store, analyze, and subsequently act on that gathered information its like talking with someone and forgetting every word they say as soon as it hits your ears.

All those voter contacts you made, emails you collected, and analysis you performed – do you really want to do it again in a year or two? Could you use it in an upcoming 2009 election (there will be over 50,000 in 2009)?

If your wondering whether this is veiled sales pitch to use Vlytics – than you guessed right but I will remind you that one of the best political operations in the last 50 years spent the weekend trying to figure out how to keep the grassroots, voter contact, and all the data gleaned from the last election going – so shouldn’t you?

Technology and Winning

by admin at 10:30pm, September 30, 2008 | E-Campaign, Political IT

A lot of hay has been made about effective “e-campaigning” in recent election cycles.  

Having advised campaigns on “e-campaigning” and “political IT” in the past I can say the two need to be seperated and clearly defined.   

Given the nature of political campaigning they are all short-staffed, overworked and often times underqualified (not a bad thing just a reality).  So often you find the youngest guy/girl on the campaign who has no more experience than they guessed right when setting up the wireless network in the office be annointed “tech person” – the “tech person” becomes the defacto point of contact for everything IT (fax machines, emails, data management, website, etc.).  

No matter how you look at e-campaigning or political IT, those portions of the campaign are no longer considered the geeky guys in the corner who send out emails rather they are integral parts to winning campaigns (emphasis on the winning)

Candidates, campaign managers, and political directors often demand esoteric mail lists of just 1/4 Independants in a certain zip code who vote absentee and believe those things appear out of thin air – think about it for a second if you had to do that personally how would you do it?  Others think that a donor database is well catalogued and safe if its sitting in an excel file on the C drive of some desktop computer that sounds like its taking off everytime you turn it on.  While even more think that if you buy an email list it will send itself.  

The above are some examples of critical tasks involved with campaigning and intersect heavily with Political IT.

You will find many campaigns believe that a website can be built in a day, cost $500 and be as functional as Barrack Obama’s because they saw the neighbor kids website and if he can do it so can we.  Others think that a viable email strategy is to load the body up with HTML, pictures, and lots of “Click Here to Contribute” buttons and send the same email to your list 2 times a day for 2 months – then wonder why they get no responses and the messages end up in SPAM folders.  More surprising to me is the fact that more campaigns spend thirty minutes setting up a myspace/facebook account and nothing more and wonder why they have no followers.  

The above are some examples of critical tasks involved with campaigning that intersect heavily with E-Campaigning.  

As you can tell there is a clear difference between E-Campaigning and Political IT and until campaigns realize that and spend equal/time and resources at it they won’t see the maximum benefit.  

Furthermore the difference in a race can be how effectively it handles E-Campaigning and Political IT.  Think about it, the very core purpose of IT is to do tasks more efficiently and effectively – if you do it right every $1 you spend optimizing your work on IT  is like spending $2 doing the same task the non-IT way – if you do it right it can be the difference maker in every  election.