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While it's hard to tease out how much Clinton's loss was due to
her Web strategy---and how much to factors such as her Iraq War
vote and the half-generation di erence between her and Obama's
ages---it seems clear that her campaign deëmphasized Web strategy
early on, Trippi says. Even if you "have all the smartest bottom-up,
tech-savvy people working for you," he says, "if the candidate and
the top of the campaign want to run a top-down campaign, there
is nothing you can do. It will sit there and nothing will happen.
That's kind of what happened with the Clinton campaign."
Republican Ron Paul had a di erent problem: Internet anarchy.
Where the Obama campaign built one central network and man-
aged it e ectively, the Paul campaign decided early on that it would
essentially be a hub for whatever networks the organizers were set-
ting up. The results were mixed. On the one hand, volunteers orga-
nized successful "money bombs"---one-day online fund-raising
frenzies (the one on November 5, 2007, netted Paul $4.3 million).
But sometimes the volunteers' energy---and money---was wasted,
says Justine Lam, the Paul campaign's Internet director, who is
now the online marketing director at Politicker.com. Consider the
supporter-driven e ort to hire a blimp emblazoned with "Who is
Ron Paul? Google Ron Paul" to cruise up and down the East Coast
last winter. "We saw all this money funding a blimp, and thought,
'We really need this money for commercials,' " Lam says.
Then there is McCain, who---somewhat ironically---was the big
Internet story of 2000. That year, after his New Hampshire pri-
mary victory over George W. Bush, he quickly raised $1 million
online. And at times last year, he made e ective use of the Inter-
net. His sta made videos---such as "Man in the Arena," celebrat-
ing his wartime service---that gained popularity on YouTube. But
the McCain site is ine ectual for social networking. In late June,
FACEBOOK AND MYSPACE DATA COURTESY OF TECHPRESIDENT.COM; WEBSITE TRAFFIC COURTESY OF COMPETE.COM
when I tried to sign up on McCainSpace---the analogue to MyBO---
I got error messages. When I tried again, I was informed that I
would soon get a new password in my in-box. It never arrived. "His
social-networking site was poorly done, and people found there
was nothing to do on it," says Lam. "It was very insular, a walled
garden. You don't want to keep people inside your walled garden;
you want them to spread the message to new people."
McCain's organization is playing to an older base of support-
ers. But it seems not to have grasped the breadth of recent shifts
in communications technology, says David All, a Republican new-
media consultant. "You have an entire generation of folks under
age 25 no longer using e-mails, not even using Facebook; a majority
are using text messaging," All says. "I get Obama's text messages,
and every one is exactly what it should be. It is never pointless, it
is always worth reading, and it has an action for you to take. You
can have hundreds of recipients on a text message. You have hun-
dreds of people trying to change the world in 160 characters or less.
What's the SMS strategy for John McCain? None."
The generational di erences between the Obama and McCain
campaigns may be best symbolized by the distinctly retro "Pork
Invaders," a game on the McCain site (it's also a Facebook appli-
cation) styled after Space Invaders, the arcade game of the late
1970s. Pork Invaders allows you to fire bullets that say "veto" at
slow-moving flying pigs and barrels.
But it's not that the campaign isn't trying to speak to the youth
of today, as opposed to the youth of decades ago. Lately McCain
has been having his daughter Meghan and two friends write a
"bloggette" from the campaign trail. The bloggette site features a
silhouette of a fetching woman in red high-heeled shoes. "It gives
a hipper, younger perspective on the campaign and makes both of
NEW MEDIA KING Barack Obama's website enjoys more hits than the competition's, but his real dominance is on
social networks like Facebook and MySpace. He's also a leading microblogger on Twitter.
Weekly website traffic
■ Barack Obama ■ John McCain ■ Mike Gravel ■ Ralph Nader ■ Hillary Clinton
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