In The Real Lessons of Howard Dean: Reflections on the First Digital Campaign, Matthew Hindman found significant correlation between the snowball effect of early success (or failure) and determining a campaign’s real-world effectiveness. This was evident in Dean’s failure during the election after a miserable start, losing both Iowa and New Hampshire. While the Internet is a phenomenal medium that pushes collaboration without the need to physical congregate as a group. The capacity for individuals to interact with one another in a digital space like the Internet is crucial for the democratic society of today. While political Web use remains a complex topic, many researchers have attempted to decipher the proper approach to social media and the new technologies available. The true question is whether the virtual primary online could ever transition into real-world success.
In Exiting Deanspace, Clay Shirky points out that despite Dean’s campaign failure, Howard Dean remained the best-funded and best-publicized candidate to be the Democratic nominee. Dean used the Internet in ways never seen before. From vivid and imaginative uses, Howard Dean managed to successfully create the first ever interactive political candidate website. The true downfall of the Dean campaign is that “they believed their own press.” By using marketing statistics and various newspapers as credible sources, the campaign had an excuse for believing Dean was the frontrunner. Despite constant press and a clear online community behind him, Dean’s campaign was unable to look past the superficial online statistics and see how voters would respond in the real-world. This is the problem many political candidates face during elections.
The Dean campaign revealed to society the potential behind the Internet. In regards to collaborating individuals and raising funding, the Internet is a perfect way for many individuals to skip this typically time-consuming aspect of political campaigns. Society must be aware of the potential to misinterpret statistical information online. How do we determine who of the citizens are actually considered to be “definite supporters”? Is it possible to run a political campaign with no TV coverage, simply just utilizing new mediums such as the Internet and social media outlets?