by Unknown | 6/14/2008 05:41:00 PM
Via Independent Political Report, Blogger Peter Orvetti posts old interviews with 2000 Presidential candidates John Hagelin (Natural Law Party) and the late Harry Browne (Libertarian). The Browne interview contains this interesting tidbit:

ORVETTI: As far as national television goes, I know you'd planned to run ads nationally this year. Are they up now?

BROWNE: Yes, we've had ads running since the Libertarian convention [in early July]. They're running on national cable channels like CNN, Headline News, Nick at Nite -- we had some on the Weather Channel, where they've done very well. And I think they've been successful, judging from the increased traffic to our website. In July we had just a few thousand hits less than Bush's site, and far more than Gore. (emphasis mine)

Wait a minute. If Browne is to be believed, Bush had more hits to his campaign website in 2000 than did Gore. For anybody who follows American politics today, that's pretty shocking. For instance, this cycle I'm pretty sure Hillary Clinton got more hits to her website during the primary than McCain will get during the entire campaign. The idea that McCain could get more hits than Obama is just absurd. Ditto for Kerry in 2004, who tapped into Howard Dean's national network of Internet activists to raise more money than Bush, the first time a Democratic presidential nominee had outraised a Republican in a generation.

So, what happened? Dean happened, of course. But the amazing thing about the Dean movement is that it was largely spontaneous, just like the Ron Paul movement of 2008. The more important question is: why did Dean happen? And why did Dean happen on the Internet, of all places, which appears to have been Republican territory as recently as 2000?

Any thoughts, readers?

[Update] On a somewhat related note, does anybody remember what the precedent for this was? Here's a hint.




Blogger iampunha on 6/14/2008 8:05 PM:

A few thoughts, actually.

"In July we had just a few thousand hits less than Bush's site, and far more than Gore."

This to me does not necessarily mean anything about 2000 overall, but merely July. The difference between "In July" and "As of July" or "Up through July" could be pretty significant.

Assuming there were massive hits to the minor party Web site, a few points:

1) If you're not getting traditional media coverage, go to another medium.

2) If you are getting traditional media coverage, you might not be thinking about ways to get more coverage.

3) If you're taking campaign advice from Bill Clinton, who currently does not use a Blackberry or check his e-mail, you're going to be seriously hampered in your technology use.

4) Drudge was one of the bigger nontraditional Internet sites back in the day. This might have caused Gore to shy away from it.

Dean happened because of my first point.

I'd suggest getting more data on the Web site hits of the various sites before seriously advancing the argument.


Blogger Unknown on 6/14/2008 9:08 PM:

Good points, though I'm more just bringing it up than advancing an argument. I also recall reading that Gore was particularly tech-savvy, and was addicted to his PalmPilot during the 2000 campaign.


Blogger mark on 6/14/2008 11:01 PM:

I think the net/blogosphere tilted toward libertarianism/Right/UMC/Male/Caucasian early on but as connectivity proliferated, internet users began to better mirror the larger population demographically and politically. Greater political balance was inevitable.


Blogger mark on 6/14/2008 11:36 PM:

BTW Jeremy - I have tagged you.


Blogger Unknown on 6/15/2008 2:43 AM:

And yet, it's not balanced. The Republicans have failed miserably at achieving any kind of traction on the Net, with the exception of the rEVOLution, which is disowned by many mainstream Republicans. If anything, the online population skews more liberal now than it did libertarian/conservative then.

Why? Why can't the Republicans get masses of people engaged online, when such a process occurred nearly spontaneously for Democrats?


Blogger mark on 6/15/2008 5:38 PM:

The Left netroots were partly a spontaneous, bottom-up/Web 2.0 political insurgency born of frustration with their own Dem. leadership & partly carefully seeded by financial deep pockets like Soros and various foundations.

The lack of GOP/Conservative internet parallel is twofold, in my view:

1. Incumbency sapped the feelings of pent-up frustration required to blaze a trail here. I think 2012 will be another story.

2. The GOP regulars have discouraged it. I know one net-savvy young conservative who offered to set some cutting edge things up for the McCain campaign ( for free). No sale, not interested. A GOP netroots means that funding candidates is out of the hands of those who control the party, which in many state orgs is basically a closed shop.

It will happen though next time. Inevitable.