Winning Widget

July 24, 2008

So, recently I saw this widget from “Rock the Vote,” remember them? “Rock the Vote” was formed in the 1990’s to get younger people involved in the voting process. They were able to increase the turnout of youth voters by 20%. In 2004 more than 1.2 million people downloaded the voter registration form from their site. This is a pretty big accomplishment. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read it on their timeline since I just haven’t heard the name lately. I’ve always thought of “Rock the Vote” and Bill Clinton playing the saxophonesynonymously.

Apparently, they’re still out there. With Obama’s campaign rocking the social network it seems to be a great time to really sink their teeth in. They have furthered their reach by allowing other sites to download their voting widget. You can even customize it but I’m not that advanced yet. The best part is that it works on WordPress.

Look to the right, and scroll up a little. There you have it. How cool is that? I spent hours trying to embed other widgets into my site and they just didn’t work. How terribly frustrating. WordPress is very particular about what it will allow on it’s blogger pages. Short of creating my own page and then embedding widgets it wasn’t going to happen. Now, I too can get out the vote.

You can even track how many people you have signed up but that doesn’t work on WordPress. You can’t have everything now can you? I decided to enjoy what I could get. No need to mope instead I’ll enjoy my new toy. Most importantly I’d like to give credit where credit is due. Thanks e.politics for bringing this to my attention. You might not post very often but when you do it’s something very interesting.

Show me the Money

June 29, 2008

You want to become president? You’d better have lots of money. Before the Dean campaign came along most of the money came from a few large donors. If you collected a lot of money from your well to do buddies you became a Pioneer or a Ranger. This, in turn, usually bought you some favors. Want to be an ambassador or have government regulation in your favor? Just show me the money. 


When Joe Trippi took over the Dean campaign he knew that they needed money to win. It was time to think outside of the box. When given the tools, voters were organizing themselves on Meetup. Why not let them know what the campaign needed when it came to funding and trust the voters to help achieve that goal? Jerry Lewis was in a studio every year asking for money for muscular dystrophy research while standing beside a thermometer with the temperature climbing as money poured in. Why couldn’t the campaign use a variation of that idea to motivate voters. They could visually see what they were helping to accomplish. They could feel like part of the team as they did at the Meetups. Larry Biddle from the finance department came up with the solution, a baseball bat. What is more american than baseball?

A goal was set. Not too high, because they needed to reach it but not too low because they needed to make an impression. It was $4.5 million. In the end they raised $7.2 million and changed the face of campaign financing. All of this money was raised by small donors. The average check was for $50 or less. No Rangers here and also no one that the campaign was beholden to.  Another breakthrough was that never before had fundraising goals gone public. Sometimes you need to take a chance to make an impact. 


Basically, what it comes down to is that in order to raise money for campaigns a candidate needs to court their supporters, all of them. Hillary Clinton didn’t and she lost the nomination and is $20 million in debt. Obama embraced Dean’s model and motto of change and he has the nomination.

Politics seems to be a vicious circle. The First Campaign, written by an insightful young author, discusses this pattern. One party is in power and nothing is done or something that the public doesn’t like so the other party is elected to office. After 8 years they too lose favor so the first party is brought back. It seems to be a given as it’s happened so many times before. The flip side of this is that maybe the party in power feels too sure of themselves and doesn’t have the same drive to stay in office as the party who is trying to get back into favor.



Either way it comes down to money. With more money there is more power and power seems to walk hand in hand with official positions. Whichever party, or candidate for that matter, has the most dollars seems to prevail. In the past it was the Republican machine and now the Democratic machine seems to be catching up. Whenever the media reports on how a candidate is doing in the elections it is always accompanied by the amount in their campaign account.


When in comes to the internet it now seems that you need to be in it to win it. Ever since the Dean campaign dove into the internet headfirst everyone is getting wet, even if it’s only a pinky toe. Now candidates get criticized if they don’t open up enough on the internet. In a recent blog on TechPresident they discussed how insulted some were that Hillary Clinton sent out tweets on Twitter but didn’t pretend to follow any. In other words she’s not signed up for anyone else’s feed. Obama is signed up for over 23,000 feeds. He must have a lot of time on his hands.


Political campaigns are all about perception. Do any of the candidates have their finger on the pulse of the people, probably not. If the perception is there, however, then the race is won.