Recently, I had the honor to deliver the keynote at the first Tech Roanoke Conference.*
Winning politics in the digital space is a matter of hot debate. Some say the Left dominates while the GOP is playing catch up. But we’re not playing anymore. While there is always more to learn, the fact is that the tools, tactics, and technology of modern digital politics have leveled the playing field.
To prove this I presented a case study of a candidate who had one of the most effective digital campaigns in politics. When people make this evaluation, they usually focus on one particular candidate and one particular story, don’t they? Let’s take a look, see if you can guess who I’m talking about…
This candidate started out as a little known force in politics, focused on leading at the community level. This candidate represented a new look and a new direction for their party. Once the campaign got going though, this candidate became a household name, raising $5 for every $1 spent on their digital campaign and raking in boatloads of cash on money bombs and other digital campaigns, but really rising to prominence with a speaking opportunity at the national convention.
I think you all know who I’m talking about, and that candidate is…
…not Barack Obama.
This is actually the story of Mia Love, who became a darling of the Republican party and a national star, raised over $1 Million online from every state in the union, and actually won on election night. The final tally put her behind by several hundred votes, but Love will likely coast to election this cycle based in large part on the success of her last campaign.
My message then to the Roanoke Conference was this: you don’t have to be Barack Obama to be successful online, Democrats don’t own the Internet, and frankly I’m tired of people trying to convince all of us that we’re behind and constantly playing catch up.
This is just one example of a CRAFT campaign that leveraged readily available tactics, tools and technology to wage an effective digital campaign. Catching up should not be our focus. Our focus should be moving messages that appeal to emotion and resonate with voters. Our focus should be cultivating a culture of designers, coders, and communicators that understand and embrace digital channels. Our focus should be seamless integration that brings digital, media, and traditional channels together to multiply the effects of each.
Understanding and using technology levels the playing field. Big campaigns can come from small budgets. Stop worrying about who has done it better. Go out there and do it better.
*Tech Roanoke is a newly formed organization that brings together individuals passionate about politics and technology. In a partnership with the Roanoke Conference the organization launched its first training and networking event where attendees can learn about and share their insights on the next wave of political and technological change.