It’s amazing to see how political campaigns has evolved in the Internet era. We’ve seen a transformation based primarily in the areas of online fundraising and using social media to organize supporters and volunteers.
This makes it much easier for national figures to quickly ramp up campaigns. Elizabeth Warren is a great example. She has a ton of progressive support after her role in creating the Financial Consumer Protection Bureau, so when she announced her Senate campaign, she was able to immediately harness her political celebrity. She raised a ton of money online in a short period of time, mostly from small donors all around the country. The web tools for this are now very common and easy to implement. In addition to raising a ton of money, she is also organizing an army of volunteers. As a result, her opponents in the Democratic primary have dropped out.
These tools are also important for less well-known candidates. People can create local buzz, and then use the same new media tools to leverage that buzz. Things now move much faster.
That said, old-school politics are still critical, and things like appearances and shaking hands generate news stories, that then get disseminated and then motivate people to go to the candidates web site. Also, people want to show their support in many ways, so signs and stickers are still important. So campaigns still need to pay attention to things like sticker printing, but the web is also helpful here as well, as all these things can be ordered online.
It will be interesting to see what innovations are in store for 2012.