My acquaintance Ed Cone has a great article on the convergence of politics and the internet. He articulates something I noticed but couldn’t put into words as well as he did. The Howard Dean campaign in 2004 and the Ron Paul campaign this time around had a lot of internet juice but neither seemed to translate into many votes. He lays out why he thinks that is and some suggestions for using the internet in a campaign.
A single one sentence observation carries much of the weight of wisdom: “The ground game matters.” I made some phone calls for John Edwards (not many, fewer than a dozen) but his online virtual phone bank tool made that easy. In 2002, I had to drive to a boiler room in Chamblee GA to make calls for Max Cleland and it really sucked. I agree with Ed that the strength of the internet lies in coordinating the rest of it. It is a means, but not an end. Of the people I know personally that were supporting Ron Paul and involved in the process, they did internet style things for him but I’m pretty sure that didn’t involve making phone calls or pounding on doors. The ground game matters.