Wednesday, 5 March 2008
Are Hillary's wins bad news for web campaigning fans?
It's a matter of expectations and the big MO (momentum). Hillary's wins may not bring her the nomination (simple delegate maths says no) but she won Texas and Ohio on the back of traditional campaigning and negative campaigning at that. She has the MO now.
Although the polls said it was close she raced ahead in Ohio on the back of a gaff about trade issues by the Obama camp - very traditional. And although Obama had by far the slickest operation ever seen technically (see Terry Mancour in today's Guardian), especially compared to Hillary's 'command-control', and has completely changed the rules with fundraising (one million have donated online) that didn't push him over the top in Texas. And expectations about that were raised.
He will likely still get there - people who like to bet say it's a 1-7 done deal. But yesterday's vote and a perceived Hillary 'comeback' shows - I think - some real limits to the web's impact and the problem is the lack of real evidence and real numbers on where that limit is.
Obviously the slick online operation and the fundraising has pushed Obama further and energised a lot of people, especially young ones, but just how much further I don't think we know yet. Both of them have pushed turnout up but how much is web-derived and how much to do with the first black/first woman?.
Only Pew has done some real research as far as I'm aware and this is a big gap if web campaigning is really going to get some place, some backing and some real funding elsewhere — I'm talking about the UK here.
Politically it can't be ignored because of its ability to hit you - like with John Edwards haircut and how that made him look like a rich hypocrite or the Macacca incident which defeated a Govenor. Plus everyone will want to copy Obama's fundraising. But, like with Ron Paul, being a web hit, which Obama definitely is, isn't everything.
Exactly where the line is, where web impact ends and 'traditional' takes over, where it's moved to over the past few months? We don't know, we can only make an educated guess.
And that's a problem.
Footnote: I was watching Fox online last night and they had an excellent web stream hosted by - cough - Karl Rove. And, damn, it was good. It ran live complete with silences, bathroom breaks and tekkie interruptions with occasional crosses to TV. A telling moment was when they got a traffic report and wet themselves over 50,000 hits. Plus - bizarrely - they did the TV thing of quadrupling that to 200,000 'viewers'. Er, like web viewers aren't likely to be alone at a PC?!?