In 2003, Democratic Presidential hopeful Howard Dean raised more than $20 million online and showed the fundraising power of the Internet and reinvented campaign fundraising, shifting it from a few big donors to countless small donors. These new and important Internet strategies were then adopted in the John Kerry and George W. Bush’s campaigns, along with the political parities, and candidates on the state and local level.
Seeing the success of Dean in online fundraising, the Kerry campaign used similar fundraising strategies and raked in nearly $82 million in online contributions. The Bush campaign mainly used their website organize and communicate with supporters and collected around $14 million online.With the success of Kerry’s online fundraising efforts, Kerry was able to compete with Bush financially and level the playing field in terms of donations.While the Bush campaign raised a record-breaking $260 million, the Kerry campaign was not so far behind with $248 million thanks to all of the Internet donations.
Every few decades, a new medium finds its niche in American politics.
In the 1920s and 1930s, it was radio that gave candidates a way to talk directly to large audiences. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was television, which created sound bites and showed that a candidate's physical image matters. The 1980s and early 1990s were about cable TV and targeting audiences such as the MTV generation.
This year, the Internet came into its own as a political tool.
"In 2004, it was a driving force in the campaign," said Alexis Rice, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins University and director of a project there that analyzes the Internet's influence on politics. </ul>
Election 2004 was the first national elections where the Internet was an integrated part of the election and used in every facet of this campaign.
The Palm Beach Post had a great editorial today "Now running: The Web" where the paper notes:
One of the starring roles in the 2004 campaign goes not to a candidate but to the Internet. A physician from a tiny state could stun the political Establishment and contend for a major-party presidential nomination because technology enabled him to go around the Establishment. He made online house calls, seeking money and support, from the wired world. Dr. Dean's issue was opposition to the war in Iraq, and he tapped into strong emotions. His audience may not have reflected the nation as a whole, since the wired world tends to be younger and single, but the Establishment got the idea. In particular, John Kerry and the Democrats raised lots of money in $50 online increments.