Michael H Goldhaber on Thu, 11 Dec 2003 09:18:57 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The Dean campaign and the Internet


Howard Dean , by the current looks of things, has done something amazing
in American political history . Without being President or Vice
President he apparently has sewn up a major-party nomination before the
start of the election year. Things could come unglued, and part of the
earliness of his  success  may simply result from campaigning starting
earlier and earlier in successive election cycles. Still,  considering
Dean's  having come  out of nowhere (well, Vermont) much of his success
seems to be based on his highly sophisticated use of  the Internet:  as
an organizing  tool; for building support; as an extremely successful
means of fundraising; and to hold his supporters together.

Further, as the New York Times Magazine (
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/07/magazine/07DEAN.html ) points out, his
campaign has a sort of technological coordinator who has volunteers
writing new kinds of software for new modes of Internet  connection.
This has apparently helped him develop a  far more flexible, complete
and complex organization in early primary states than any predecessor or

For non-Americans, I should add that the primary system as it now exists
is extremely weird, unrepresentative, and dominated by  a handful of
small states. It is generally thought that if one candidate wins both
the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary,  this candidate is
essentially guaranteed nomination. However, a "front-runner" who somehow
does not do as well as expected, especially in New Hampshire, can
sometimes be viewed as the loser even if actually ahead in the vote
there. The guess is though that Dean's support is so much stronger and
deeper in both places than anyone else's that such a turn around is
quite unlikely. He also seems to be ahead among Democrats in South
Carolina, even topping the charismatic Senator Edwards from neighboring
North Carolina.

I bring all this up in the hopes that nettimers will discuss this model
of politics via the Internet and what it might portend/teach.


Michael H. Goldhaber

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