Michael Cornfield's Commentary summarizes the ways in which the internet has become an essential medium of American politics. Cornfield outlines five major innovations of the Howard Dean (Joe Trippi, manager) 2004 campaign: news-pegged fundraising appeals, net-organized local gatherings, blogging, online referenda, decentralized decision-making. Cornfield examines the different Deanian techniques that Kerry and Bush utilized in their campaigns - Kerry focused more on fund-raising while Bush concentrated on grass-roots mobilization. Cornfield ultimately concludes that the Democrats started too late and were not effectively organized.
In an effort to analyze the techniques utilized by the emerging 2008 candidates, this article is useful for historicizing Internet politicking. One of the most interesting comments is Cornfield's re-imagining the concept of an "activist" - who might soon include "people who do little more than what ten minutes a month at their computers enable them to do." Although Moveon.org got 500,000 people to sign the petition against impeaching President Clinton, the House ultimately voted for impeachment. The organization's real power seems to have come from fund-raising for candidates. Is online activism now (say online petitions or virtual marches) as effective (in terms of real-world effects in policy, etc.) as live-action grassroots efforts - or could it be in the future?
This article (as its title indicates) is focused on the internet aspect of the 2004 campaign and does not offer a well-rounded examination of other campaign factors.