Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Washington Post on MoveOn Primary http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A7632-2003Jun17?language=printer
The candidate with the most backing from MoveOn members (though by no means necessarily a majority) is Dean. Not surprisingly, winning this primary has emerged as the Dean campaign's chief focus in the next several weeks. The former Vermont governor has clawed his way into the first tier of Democratic candidates in part through his campaign's unparalleled success in waging a candidacy online. In its last financial statement, the campaign reported $750,000 in online contributions; campaign manager Joe Trippi says that figure now totals roughly $1.25 million.
The campaign already claims 33,000 online Dean supporters who came together through MeetUp.com, a Web site that enables people of like interests to, well, meet up. Trippi is urging his MeetUppers to join the MoveOners but acknowledges that 33,000 new members would just be a drop in MoveOn's bucket.
Both Trippi and the MoveOn leaders think that winning 50 percent support this early in the process will be an arduous task. The thing about an online election, however, is that it's no big deal to hold another one 30 or 60 days later -- a process to which MoveOn seems committed until an endorsement emerges. Still, Dean's legions are filled with highly educated, Internet-savvy young people, and that's a pretty good description of MoveOn's members as well.
How much money such an endorsement would be worth to its recipient is one of the hottest topics in liberal America today. MoveOn's staff offers only the most cautious projections, but political operatives sound awestruck as they contemplate what the numbers could be. "If Dean has their support and wins Iowa," says one longtime liberal strategist who's no Dean partisan, "what people don't realize is that MoveOn could get him $30 million in the next two days."
This is a topic to which Trippi has given a lot of thought. A "mature Internet," he says, could be the link that earlier insurgent candidates missed. "If Gary Hart had had the Internet in 1984, you have to wonder if Mondale would have won the nomination," says Trippi, who worked for Mondale that year. "Hart had no way to raise the money to go national after he won New Hampshire and had to compete immediately in a nationwide Super Tuesday." With the added technology, the Eugene McCarthys and John McCains of this world might well have gone farther.
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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.