First, the obvious: running a successful campaign is expensive. The legitimacy of a candidate is directly proportional to the size of his coffers. If you are the candidate, out of political necessity, fundraising is and should be your priority at the beginning, middle, and end of your campaign. And at every stage in between.
Filing campaign statements with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) or any government agency can be a nerve racking and mentally exhausting experience. Having to itemize nearly every transaction, complete complicated forms and follow obscure rules make reporting a challenging job.
While some politicos still cling doggedly to their well-loved clipboards and broken pencils, those items deserve a more appropriate interment in the Museum of Campaigns Past. Today, you simply must use a database system. It is the lifeblood of your campaign, the one place (ideally) where you will plan events, track fundraising, catalog volunteers, and manage your budget.
Web 2.0 is a term that gets thrown around a lot. It refers to many different aspects of new technology, although it isn’t always clear which pieces of technology are and aren’t Web 2.0. In fact, if you have a conversation with different technology advocates, you’ll probably get competing definitions and applications.
The budget is the least glamorous, yet most important part of any campaign. We hear constantly about who’s raised how much but we rarely hear about fundraising’s mirror image – who’s spent how much on what?
Gone are the days where a campaign was run off an ever-expanding collection of spreadsheets and business card catalogues. Like any other high-intensity collaborative effort in our interconnected, “always-on” world, today’s modern political campaign must be supported by a relational database, with online and multi-channels accessibility (via web-browser, mobile-optimized web application, or a native smart-phone app) an absolute must.
Politics & the Internet in 2004:
In the 2004 election cycle, websites, email and online fundraising assumed a growing prominence. In each of these areas, new high marks were established in both volume and audience-reach.
Former Senator Alan Simpson once said that most campaigns for office start with a couple of friends, sitting around a table drinking beers. While this may be the way most campaigns start, they shouldn’t stay that way for long. Too often, local candidates think that the best way to run a campaign is to get some friends involved and the campaign will fall into place on its own.
In most elections, incumbents have enormous advantages over challengers. Not only have they won election in the district before, and thus possess greater name ID, but they also have at their disposal all of the trappings of elected office: free mail to constituents, news coverage, patronage and increased fundraising ability.
Ten years ago, there was a legitimate question of whether the Internet had a role to play in political campaigns. That question has been decided. The Internet is here. Nearly 80% of Americans use email. Over half of US homes have broadband connections and wireless access is common and growing. As for political campaigns, the Internet has been accepted. Asking if a campaign uses email is now nearly as absurd as asking if they use the telephone. The question is not if they’re using the Internet, but what elements are they using, how much do they use it, and what’s working for them?