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How Howard Dean Is Winning The Web
Time ^ | Monday, Jul. 14, 2003 | CHRIS TAYLOR/SAN RAFAEL

Posted on 07/06/2003 5:30:45 PM PDT by jern

N A T I O N How Dean Is Winning The Web The Democrat's ability to win fans and raise cash online has taken his party by surprise By CHRIS TAYLOR/SAN RAFAEL

Monday, Jul. 14, 2003 Howard Dean is hardly what you would call a high-tech guru. The former Vermont Governor, whose trademark look is a blue shirt with rolled-up sleeves, is a mostly gadget-free zone. He does not carry a BlackBerry email pager or tablet PC (he leaves those to his aides). And don't expect to find Dean, 54, surfing the Web for hours at home. "I kind of missed the Internet boom," concedes the physician.

Yet the Internet boom has not missed Dean. Rather, it has handed him a bonanza of cash and buzz that would make most 1990s dotcom veterans — and politicians — weep. In the past three months, it was revealed last week, Dean has raised $7.5 million, $1.5 million more than his nearest Democratic rival, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, nudging Dean into the top tier of Democratic candidates. Two-thirds of all Dean contributions were made online. And as often happens in politics, bucks begat the Big Mo. A poll in the first caucus state, Iowa, released last week put Dean in second place, a mere percentage point behind Dick Gephardt. Once viewed as a no-hoper for the nomination, notable only for his vehement opposition to the war in Iraq, Dean is increasingly forcing his party's other candidates to adjust their strategies as they figure out how to slow his momentum.

Rival campaigns immediately scrambled to prove that Dean's breakthrough meant little. "Nobody has ever doubted the intensity of Dean's support," says Jim Jordan, campaign manager for Kerry. "The question is, Can he broaden it?" Dean, meanwhile, is quick to downplay the notion that his rise is only a cybersurge: "The Internet is a tool, not a campaign platform."

Dean's campaign stands out because the Internet provides its fuel as well as its funding. His early success suggests that the Internet may prove to be the great modern means of creating grassroots momentum. His Internet supporters — an army 55,000 strong and growing — find one another on the Web and are cheered on at every step by what may be the most interactive effort in electoral history. "They weren't just sending email solicitations," a Democratic official says of the Dean campaign. "They developed an online community, nurtured it and, once it was firmly established, mined it."

Dean's chain of websites, run mainly by tech-savvy campaign manager Joe Trippi and the campaign's four Internet-dedicated staff members, has a sense of fun that rivals old-time political carnivals. You can download the Dean Techno Dance Mix of one of his speeches from dean2004.blogspot.com. howarddean.tv offers Dean appearances delivered to your desktop. Then there is blogforamerica.com (blog is short for weblog), a candid daily journal updated by staffers from wherever Dean happens to be. Communications director Kate O'Connor was reluctant to file to the blog at first, but her entry writing — sprinkled with exclamation points ("we are driving in a hybrid vehicle!!")--has become a huge hit in the Dean community. "It's amazing," gushes O'Connor. "I have a following."

Dean's online presence would amount to little more than fun and games if not for a couple of influential websites unaffiliated with the campaign. One of them is Meetup.com, a commercial site that mostly helps Harry Potter fans or Star Trek geeks arrange get-togethers with like-minded strangers. Once the campaign discovered hundreds of supporters at the site, aides realized it was an extremely useful way to connect Dean supporters and made an agreement with the site.

Here's how it works: Last Wednesday those 55,000 Dean supporters were directed by Meetup to go to 310 locations across the U.S. at 7 p.m. local time. There they were each given the addresses of three undecided Democrats in Iowa and asked to send handwritten letters to them. Campaigns are charged $2,500 for the service, a deal referred to by Meetup's founders as the Trippi special. Dean is by far the most popular candidate on Meetup, with Kerry a distant second.

These meetups are evidence of the enthusiasm out there for the former Governor — enthusiasm the other campaigns can only envy. They are also evidence of a homogeneity among those enthusiasts. In San Rafael, Calif., last Wednesday, 75 attendees packed the back room of the Limelight restaurant. There were veteran campaigners and neophytes, a few Kerry supporters willing to be convinced and even a couple of Republicans angry at Bush — but not a single non-Caucasian. An ethnic-outreach subcommittee was swiftly announced.

The other website that has given Dean a healthy boost is MoveOn.org, a left-leaning group that played a prominent role in this year's antiwar protests and has an enormous online following. In recent weeks MoveOn held what was billed as "the first Internet primary." Some 317,000 people voted, and Dean came in first, with an impressive 44%. But the relevance of the poll was put in doubt by the Democrat who came in second: the very liberal Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, a true no-chance candidate.

Still, MoveOn can't be dismissed so easily. The organization will eventually get behind one candidate and expects to spend between $5 million and $10 million, money that any Democratic candidate would find useful in the face of Bush's fund-raising express. "MoveOn is poised to become the Christian Coalition of the left," says Michael Cornfield, a professor at George Washington University's Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet. "It's the power base of the Democratic Party right now."

Of course, funding a campaign from cyberspace is not new, nor is it any guarantee of success. John McCain and Bill Bradley raised $2.5 million and $1.6 million from their respective sites in 2000. And while candidates like Kerry and Joe Lieberman are emulating Dean's online play, others dismiss it as elitist. "I don't think average Joes are on the Internet using their credit cards to give you $25," scoffs Gephardt campaign official Steve Elmendorf.

But the numbers may suggest otherwise. Dean seems to be tapping into a seam of online middle-class resentment. The vast majority of his 59,000 contributors gave less than $250; the average was $112. Dean may not have Gephardt's solid union support, but he is assembling a different kind of volunteer force, one made up of passionate and often disgruntled believers.

The questions now are whether Dean can broaden his support and whether the Internet is just a boutique fund-raising tool or one that can generate actual votes. Whatever the ultimate verdict, Dean has already shown there is more than one way to reach supporters. The power of the Internet in political campaigning is "going to take away television's total dominance," says Trippi. So stay tuned. Or, rather, log on.

— Reported by Perry Bacon Jr./Iowa and James Carney/Washington


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Vermont
KEYWORDS: 2004; bigmedia; censureandmoveon; clintoncronies; cnntimelife; dnc; duh; dunces; howarddean; impeachement; internet; kneepadbrigade; mediabias; morondotorg; moveondotorg; moveonorg; onlinepolls; pac; politicalactioncmte; time; timemagazine; web; winning; x42

1 posted on 07/06/2003 5:30:45 PM PDT by jern
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To: jern
This needs a "Gag Alert" or something similar.
2 posted on 07/06/2003 5:37:03 PM PDT by Ken522
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To: Ken522
Why? I don't see anything non-factual. "Gag alert" only if you are a supporter of one of the other 8.
3 posted on 07/06/2003 5:45:32 PM PDT by nwrep
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To: jern
Dean seems to be tapping into a seam of online middle-class resentment.

Do these people know what Dean's tax policy will do to their take home pay?

4 posted on 07/06/2003 5:59:50 PM PDT by Semper Paratus
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To: jern
"Dean may not have Gephardt's solid union support, but he is assembling a different kind of volunteer force, one made up of passionate and often disgruntled believers."

Deans support reminds me of George McGovern's in '72. They can take the demonrat primary, but will lose big time in the general election!
5 posted on 07/06/2003 6:01:53 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Freedom is not Free - Support the Troops!)
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To: SwinneySwitch
DON'T WORRY ABOUT HOWARD THE DUCK HE JUST SHOT HIMSELF IN THE BUTT,WITH THE DNC!!!!
6 posted on 07/06/2003 6:07:35 PM PDT by jocko12
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To: jern
Oh whatever!

Dean's a nutcase that will be selling colidal silver by december of next year.

I don't give a crap how much he's raised, it's not enough to offset his crazy notions and general scaryness.

7 posted on 07/06/2003 6:13:52 PM PDT by Jhoffa_ (BREAKING: Supreme Court Finds Right to Sodomy, Sammy & Frodo elated.)
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To: Miss Marple; Howlin; PhiKapMom
Dean..... the current media darlin'....
8 posted on 07/06/2003 6:25:38 PM PDT by deport (Don't kick a cow patty on a hot day........... just a dem enabler)
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To: SwinneySwitch
Deans support reminds me of George McGovern's in '72. They can take the demonrat primary, but will lose big time in the general election!

The old time labor unions in 72 believed that it was better to not take sides in a primary election. So they didn't. Today there is a new generation of leaders in the trade and factory worker unions. They are strongly considering entering into the primary contests. If they do their choice will be Gephardt. If they enter the fray Gephardt will win the election.

Money is only valuable to candidates as a means to run advertising to persuade voters to vote for you. The unions can put hundreds of thousands of votes in a candidates column and not give the candidate a penny. But Unions do more than just exercise their political machine. They give money to candidates they support and that amount of money makes the three million raised by Dean on the web look like peanuts.

We are not into the real primary season yet. Dean has not debated the other Democrats for the nomination. They will eat him alive. We know Dean does not have a good staff or a quick brain. Who with a brain would brag that he was breaking into the Democratic country club, just after his son was arrested for breaking into a Country Club.

Plus no Democrat with a brain would admit wanting to be in a country club. Dean can't get the working class base so important to a democratic victory by talking about the Democrats having a country club for him to break into.

While Dean was raising 7 plus million as a governor preparing to run for the presidency, I would remind you that Governor Bush was 4 years ago raising 20 million dollars. Dean as a governor candidate for a party nomination is about 1/3 of a Dubya as a fund raiser.

Dean still has not raised as much money as some other democrats. He has just raised more money in the last quarter and he has raised it on the web. Many of the other candidates have lists of supporters that they can contact directly.Most candidates will raise money as early as possible so they don't have to raise money during the primary campaign. If they money is Pac or Union money they will try to get it before the season starts so no one snoops into who gave what. I think the others will allow Dean to bragg about fund raising. Drawing attention to your fund raising is like Gary Hart Drawing attention to his sex life. It most likely will come back to byte you.

It is anohter indication of the amateur status of Dean.

Gephardt, Lieberman, and some of the others have huge databases of donors. They may not need to beg on the web.

But Deans problem is not money. He is a cocky amatuer that does not know when to shut up. He will most likely shoot himself in the foot. The best you can say aboute him is he talks before he thinks. That is a terrible flaw.

9 posted on 07/06/2003 6:26:40 PM PDT by Common Tator
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To: jern
He's winning the web? That's not quite the same as the Electoral College.
10 posted on 07/06/2003 6:28:54 PM PDT by Republican Wildcat (Help us elect Republicans in Kentucky! Click on my name for links to all the 2003 candidates!)
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To: jern
"I don't think average Joes are on the Internet using their credit cards to give you $25," scoffs Gephardt campaign official Steve Elmendorf.
The Internet is a middle class, not a lower class, phenomenon. Since the Democrats appeal to everyone who does not consider themselves middle class--either "poor" or "got-mine-Jack" elite--the Internet is more of a natural tool for the party of the middle class, the Republicans.

But of course all that is relative--the Republicans attract a majority of the middle class, the Democrats attract a majority of the rich--and a large majority of "the poor." So apparently the sort of middle class person who will be a Democrat inclines to favor Dean.


11 posted on 07/06/2003 6:31:13 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: jocko12
Actually, I smell a rat, as far as Dean and the DNC is concerned. This is a win-win for Dean and HILLARY, should Dean get the Nomination, because he will either LOSE and set Hillary up for 2008.

Dean is being used to get rid of all the competition, so that in 2008, the Dems will be looking at Hillary as a savior of their party, and no one will question her.

However, I believe that Cheney will step down, and Condi will slide in there, to challenge the creature in 08.
13 posted on 07/06/2003 6:49:00 PM PDT by Pukin Dog (Sans Reproache)
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To: jern
Online polls are a joke, they are not scientific and are easily biased by those who would DUpe them.
14 posted on 07/06/2003 7:13:35 PM PDT by weegee
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To: Republican Wildcat
He's winning the web? That's not quite the same as the Electoral College.

If Michael Moore and Albert Gore Junior had their way, there wouldn't be an electoral college.

15 posted on 07/06/2003 7:19:14 PM PDT by weegee
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To: weegee
Ah, but they aren't getting their way. Isn't that nice? :-)
16 posted on 07/06/2003 7:25:49 PM PDT by Republican Wildcat (Help us elect Republicans in Kentucky! Click on my name for links to all the 2003 candidates!)
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To: jern
Someone should ask the good Doctor if he gets a perverse kick out of hearing the sound made by sucking the brains out of a viable fetus during an abortion.

17 posted on 07/06/2003 7:33:10 PM PDT by lawdude (KAKKATE KOI!)
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To: deport
He sure does seem to be the media darling right now! Just goes to show how far left the mainstream (what a misnomer)press has become!

This should get interesting since he stepped in it big time against the clintons and mcauliffe. Wonder what color of daisies he would like?
18 posted on 07/06/2003 8:26:29 PM PDT by PhiKapMom (Bush Cheney '04 - VICTORY IN '04 -- $4 for '04 - www.GeorgeWBush.com/donate/)
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To: jern
FreeRepublic could do things like this if we weren't endlessly flooded with hundreds of articles that have nothing to do with being conservative. We've lost our sense of community...

Here's how it works: Last Wednesday those 55,000 Dean supporters were directed by Meetup to go to 310 locations across the U.S. at 7 p.m. local time. There they were each given the addresses of three undecided Democrats in Iowa and asked to send handwritten letters to them. Campaigns are charged $2,500 for the service, a deal referred to by Meetup's founders as the Trippi special. Dean is by far the most popular candidate on Meetup, with Kerry a distant second.

19 posted on 07/07/2003 3:43:51 AM PDT by GOPJ
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To: weegee
Actually, his on-line fund raising is not entirely honest. I sent him $10.00 last week because of the email he sent me.

It read:

"Hi, I'm a doctor. I can't give you a tax break, but I can add size and girth to your portfolio."

Hell, I thought "portfolio" was code for my "dinger," and I was more than willing to send some money.
20 posted on 07/07/2003 3:50:21 AM PDT by Bluntpoint (Not there! Yes, there!)
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To: GOPJ
I am not sure if that was directed towards me, but I am a firm believer in knowing what the opposition is up to.
21 posted on 07/07/2003 5:41:55 AM PDT by jern
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