The Future of Politics and the Internet, Part I

By March 16, 2007General

IPDI3.gifDoug Kurkul, NAM’s vice president of member communications and marketing services, ventured to The George Washington University today to attend the 14th annual Politics Online Conference, sponsored by the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet. His report follows.

The Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet held its annual conference in Washington this week, with NAM blogger-in-chief Pat Cleary among the distinguished speakers.

With the 2006 elections behind us and the 2008 campaign cycle getting under way at, well, Internet speed, many of the conference speakers attempted to predict what will be the major surprise of the 2008 cycle, in terms of the Internet’s influence.

We’ll look at this from a number of angles in the coming days, but there is probably nobody better to start with than Joe Trippi. That is because when he ran Howard Dean’s campaign for President in 2004, he was credited with being the first to use online political fundraising and blogging in a significant way on the national level.

Trippi explains that success, by the way, in terms of necessity. He reminds us that the Dean campaign did not enjoy the financial resources that the Bush re-election campaign had, nor was Dean’s name recognition, at the start of the campaign, high. Hence, they had to be innovative, and Trippi made the Internet a central part of their campaign operations.

Looking ahead, Trippi foresees several significant developments. First, he predicted, because the Daily Kos is heavily dominated by the far left of the Democratic Party, it is inevitable that another blog will emerge as a national leader for Democratic voices to rival Kos.

Second, Trippi is among those who believe the cell phone will become the most powerful way to move people, but the question is whether that will be a reality by 2008, or not until 2010?

Finally, Trippi believes the full impact of the Internet as a fundraising tool is not even close to being maxed out. He foresees the day, not long from now, when a presidential candidate will have five million different Americans contributing $100 each via the Net. And with that type of grassroots fundraising power dispersed among such a wide group of Americans, the power of the “big donors” will actually be lessened.

Stay tuned for more in future entries.

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