|Although it is many months until the first votes are cast for president and there are no major declared candidates, there is already a thriving ecosystem of websites promoting, criticizing, or at least following the activities of individual 2008 presidential prospects. (continues below...)|
from May 13, 2006
(Republican Party of Iowa)
(A Harris Miller for Senate project)
(grab added June 3, 2006)
(grab added June 5, 2006)
(grab added June 16, 2006)
Some of these are little more than digital brochures, with no interactivity or updating.
Other sites seek to build communities of supporters. The RussforPresident.com site aims to "generate support and enthusiasm for making Russ Feingold the next President of the United States." The America for Richardson site is "growing the netroots for Bill Richardson, President 2008." On the Republican side, Americans for Mitt has five key goals: "to encourage Mitt Romney to run for President; to educate Americans about Mitt Romney; to build a strong network of Mitt supporters throughout the country; to help Mitt secure the Republican nomination for President in 2008 and to achieve victory in the general election; and to encourage the formation of statewide organizations to support Mitt for President." The McCain Movement site "aims to become the center of the online McCain community, acting as a hub for interaction between McCain fans and a center of McCain news; we also aim to become the primary grassroots organizing center of the McCain in 2008 movement." Another form of online community is the Yahoo discussion groups; indeed a couple of the above sites have their origins in a Yahoo group.
Some of these groups start small and then adopt a more organized approach, filing with the FEC and forming political action committees so they can raise money and undertake more far-reaching activities. One of the most basic activities is to set up an informational tables at a partisan event. Some of the groups have developed networks of state coordinators. Americans for Dr. Rice ("dedicated to drafting Dr. Rice President in 2008") has run TV and radio spots. VoteHillary.org proposes to put up a billboard near the Des Moines Airport.
There are numerous blogs run by one or several individuals in support of or opposition to possible candidates. These are updated more or less frequently with news and comment. Some blogs are derivative and thin, pointing to or reprinting the occasional article; others have thought-provoking and original content and show evidence of much attention and dedication. Some blogs wither after a few months or even a few entries as their authors get caught up in other activities.
Some of the sites and blogs have a national scope and focus, while others are narrower. State specific or group specific (for example "students for..." or "law students for...") sites and blogs form a major subset of activity.
Not all is positive; there are the individuals who feel the need to make the case against one or another of the possible candidates. The Anti-Sam Brownback Blog is "Dedicated to the Savaging of Senator Sam Brownback." Criticism can also be done with a touch of humor through parody or satire sites; none of these have appeared as of yet.
All this activity complements the official sites of the potential candidates, including their leadership PAC sites and campaign sites. At this stage the potential candidate who has inspired the most independent activity is Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). On the Republican side Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has generated a fair bit of activity. Absence of activity could be an indicator that a candidacy may not fare well, but it is still early. If and when a potential candidate becomes a declared candidate, the communities formed over these many months can provide a boost in the early stages of the campaign, although ultimately the individual's performance as a candidate will be the telling factor. See also: Early sites from the 2004 cycle
|Copyright © 2006 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action||