Both D’s and R’s to focus on turning out the base

In Political Parties Shift Emphasis to Core Voters, the NY Times’ Adam Nagourney describes how both Democrat and Republican operatives are planning massive get-out-the-vote efforts for 2004.

Voter turnout campaigns are typically more influential in primaries, because fewer people vote, making the outcome easier to affect. At the very least, several Democrats said, Dr. Dean’s ability to use new techniques to identify and turn out a base of supporters makes him a formidable figure in early primary states.

But Dr. Dean, in remarks at a pig roast here in central New Hampshire this afternoon, noted that a shift of just a few percentage points in states like New Hampshire would have delivered the White House to Al Gore in 2000. And he urged supporters who showed up at his events to register their e-mail addresses with his campaign, so they can be contacted as Election Day approaches. Dr. Dean’s aides are creating a database that merges e-mail addresses with voter registration rolls and the history of voting behavior.

The enviros have understood this since the mid-90s — when WEAVE pioneered the idea of matching enviro group member lists against state voter files in order to target GOTV work.

Environmental groups have GOT, GOT GOT, to focus on getting email addresses so they can use email to do c3 and c4 GOTV work in the 2004 cycle.

Dean does Friendster

I’m not kidding. So many memes are colliding here that I think my head is about to explode.

The Clark Sphere says it well:

The internet then is the “grange” of Lincoln’s day, it is the place where The Influentials congregate, get their information, and develop their understanding. By the time the campaign comes to an end, the media people will have made up their minds about what the story is, and right now, they are reading what is going on on the internet. The Blogsphere’s roll as “factoid filter and meme tester” is crucial, because it tells the reporter and pundit what plays, and does a great deal of the leg work for him or her.

Enter the internet. The internet is not a new mass medium in the sense of television. It is not, in otherwords, the next in a long line of innovations that put more power in the hands of a smaller number of people who had control over the presses. The sequence: the modern newspaper, the national magazine, the syndicate, the movie studio, the radio network, the family of magazines, the television network, the monopolization of radio and television – has reached its pinnacle. The internet, like cable television, is the beginning of creating a new localism, to replace mere geographic localism. This isn’t a new observation, it is something that one internet business analyst was pushing some time ago: he said that EBay was about the only sure bet in the “dot com” space, because EBay was applying economies of scale to a business that was already incredibly profitable: the classified ad. Basically, Ebay allows you to place a national classified, it allows you to do the flea market circuit, without the gasoline.

This process also works with dating: regular people are now meeting other regular people through internet dating services. Regular people are now meeting regular people for political campaigns, hobbies, fan clubs and the rest. This revival of a “cyber localism” is something that has a power that is not well understood, simply because localism of this kind is not part of the bicoastal media universe.

Microsoft to close its IM network to third parties

As detailed in several articles, Microsoft is about to “lock down” its instant messaging network, forcing all users to upgrade to the latest version of its MSN instant messaging client, and requiring any third-party products to pay a licensing fee for network access.

This means that, as of October 15, folks who want to chat with MSN users using “all-in-one” instant messaging software like Trillian are most likely going to be out of luck.

My recommendations for people interesting in instant messaging:

1) Client: Now is the time to switch over to a multi-network client such as Trillian or, even better, Gaim (open-source).

2) IM Network: While it’s still reasonable to have accounts on ICQ, AIM and Yahoo!, now is the time to start using Jabber — the open-source IM protocol, which allows for distributed servers. If you have some server resources at your disposal, you should consider setting up a Jabber server. You can also register with one of the many public Jabber servers, all of which interoperate.

One other thought on choosing an “big three” (I’m now not counting MSN) service to use as your point of access for the Jabber-less: a while back, I encouraged my colleagues at ONE/Northwest to standardize on ICQ. It was sort of a six-of-one, half-dozen of another type of choice. I now realize that we’d probably have been better off choosing to standardize on AIM or Yahoo! Messenger, because both of those services can store your buddy list on their servers, making it easier to move your buddies between programs or computers.

If instant messaging is important to you, now is a good time to take stock of your practices, and to centralize on the open-source standards that can’t be taken away.

Democracy Derailed

I’m currently reading Democracy Derailed by David Broder. It’s an unflinching look at tensions between direct democracy (initiatve, referendum — and recall) and the small-r republican ideas of the framers. Broder is no fan of the initiative process, but as a journalist, he is pretty honest about exploring both sides.

Anybody playing politics in the 24 states that allow initiative and referendum ought to read this.

Pew study on Internet use by region

Gideon notes a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

As you might expect, the Northwest (which Pew unfortunately defines as only Washington and Oregon) is one of the most wired regions in the country.

The thing that most jumped out at me was that we have a larger proportion of seniors online than anywhere else. This is good news for environmental groups with greying membership bases.

One counter-intuitive finding was that folks in the Northwest consume online news at a somewhat lower rate than folks elsewhere. “[A]lmost three-fifths (59%) of American Internet users have gotten news online, led by 64% of users in the Border States. However, in the Northwest, only 53% of users have done this, one of the smallest proportions of any region in the country (other regions that score low in this category are the Mountain States at 51% and the Upper Midwest at 55%).”

While I wonder whether 6% is a truly significant deviation from average, this is definitely interesting, as it also correlates with other findings that Northwesterners tend to engage in most web-related activities at lower-than-average rates. (We’re big email users, though.)

Prototype scanner could empower ethical consumers

A Good Corporate Citizen? This Scanner Can Tell, from the New York Times, is a peek into the future of an environmental movement centered around consumer choices.

The article profiles an MIT grad student who’s built a working prototype of a handheld device that combines a barcode scanner, a wireless network connection and a small computer. Scan an item on the shelf, and the computer accesses a database with information about the product — information that could come from an environmental or activist group, and could tell you a lot about the product that the manufacturer or retailer won’t.

It will probably be a while before a consumer-ready version of this device hits the market. But forward-looking environmental activists would do well to start thinking about the campaigns they could build around this kind of technology, and about how to start building the database backends that could power this kind of information-activism.

(Thanks to Helen Seal for pointing this article out!)