Week 8 Reading

In Chapter 8 of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Trippi describes the successes of the Dean campaign. Trippi writes very positively about the grassroots feel of the online community created by the Dean, which mostly centered around the campaign’s weblog, Blog For America. Trippi was clearly very surprised by the success of the campaign he managed; all of the three authors of this week’s readings seemed to comment on the “surprise” of the lead Dean took initially. However, Trippi’s positive remarks on the fundraising techniques of the online campaign contrast greatly with Shirky’s belief that “money isn’t votes”. In this regard, Shirky was clearly right.

Trippi writes with enthusiasm about how great the Internet donations were, and how hard the blog community worked to reach miniature goals for fundraising. His examples about the red bat and the mimicking of a Dick Cheney $2,000/plate luncheon are especially glowing. However, when we read the Shirky piece, we see exactly how those donations did not turn into actual votes. Shirky writes, “By moving campaign donations online, they made it much easier to donate, so much easier in fact that raising millions from individuals was never the sign of strength we thought it was”. Shirky also says that contributing to the online fundraising wasn’t so much a contribution to Dean, but a contribution to the method- Shirky argues the ingenuity of it made people more likely to donate.

We can compare this idea to the fundraising efforts today of Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC. As of January 31, the group had raised $1,023,121. How many of those people who contributed were not actually supporting a presidential campaign for Colbert, but really just liked the novelty of donating to a Super PAC of a comedian? The money Colbert raised, many would argue, certainly does not translate to actual support for a campaign.

My question for the class is: What aspect of the Dean campaign was the most misleading as a predictor for future success? The fundraising successes? The support at early rallies? The debates on the campaign’s blog?

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1 Response to Week 8 Reading

  1. smisarah says:

    I’d argue that his fundraising successes were the most misleading aspect of his campaign. I’m sure that the other Democratic candidates had rallies that were well-attended and inspirational, and the debate on the blog was only unique to the Dean campaign because it was online – while supporters of other candidates might not have had a blog to visit and engage with, they were certainly engaged in dialogue elsewhere, be it Kerry’s campaign headquarters or just the local coffee shop. The fundraising was what set Dean apart from the other candidates and what made him most formidable in their eyes. His campaign was quite successful in soliciting small donations from a large group of people, a tactic that worked very well for Obama in 2008. However, dollars alone don’t necessarily equate to support, like we discussed in class (and you highlighted with your Colbert example).

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