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July 4, 2003

limitations of the Dean model

Apparently, Gov. Howard Dean's extraordinary fundraising success is due to the Internet. In a broadcast email (read full text here), Mike Weiksner, Chairman of e-thePeople, writes, "It started out last December when a small cabal of online pundits started posting supportive commentary about a relatively unknown candidate, Dr. Howard Dean. These pundits posted their commentary on 'blogs'." The next step was Dean's launch of a campaign website, which described his positions and requested donations. "Then, www.meetup.com got involved. Meetup.com hosts informal get-togethers for like-minded individuals, and offered to help Dean to link supporters together." Finally, MoveOn held its unofficial online Democratic "primary," which Dean won. Mainly as a result of these events, he is first in fundraising, having raised $10.1 million in 2003. He is a leading candidate instead of a protest vote.

Whenever someone scores a political success by using an unconventional tactic, it is natural to ask whether the change will last and whether it will benefit or harm the political system overall. But it is important not to generalize hastily from the first candidate who uses the new methods. For instance, an insurgent leftist candidate could invent a tactic that is ultimately used most effectively by mainstream conservatives. Furthermore, novel tactics may play out very differently once they've become routine. Thus I think we should be cautious about predicting the effects of a new tactic or technology on the political system over the long haul. But I'll risk some guesses:

July 4, 2003 11:33 AM | category: Internet and public issues | Comments


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