A few minutes ago at the Massachusetts Democratic Convention, Deval Patrick showed just how far the online Democratic Party has come when the news came out that he had won a decisive victory in his campaign to become Governor of Massachusetts. Deval was the clear winner on the first ballot, greatly outpolling a traditional politician, Tom Reilly, and a businessman who poured millions of dollars in recent weeks into the legacy model of t.v. uber alles, Christopher Gabrieli.
Two and a half years ago, Howard Dean's explosive run for the White House crashed and burned in the fields of Iowa - at least partially because the online Democrats of the time hadn't yet figured out how to make the uneasy transition from the online world to the legacy political world of counting 1s and 2s in neighborhood caucuses.
Today, Deval Patrick showed that a candidate from the outside, someone with leadership skills and the willingness to use them, can organize, fundraise and win by using the emerging technologies of the day to their full potential. Deval also showed that he had learned a critical lesson as well - you can't win as a virtual candidate alone - you have to merge the online and offline worlds. You have to be able to speak to the people but it's smart to make sure they know about your events through the power of your online communication program.
www.devalpatrick.com is a good a political website that you'll find. It has ample information about the candidate, what he stands for, how to see him and how to help. It's informative, easy to navigate and has proven to be the cornerstone of the campaign. It can be translated into Spanish, French and Portuguese with a click of a button.
Unfortunately, in meeting these basic standards of online communication, Deval has eclipsed many running for much higher office. A quick review of all the potential 08 Democratic candidates for the nomination will show you that with the exception of John Edwards and Mark Warner, no potential nominee has invested the time and money required to build what would be considered a website that is marginally acceptable in the real world.
Maybe now that Deval Patrick raised almost $500,000 in May after raising almost $400,000 in April - both single month records in a Bay State gubernatorial race. Maybe now that one-third of all his campaign contributions have come through his website. Maybe now that Deval has won the oldest of old school political battles, the first ballot of a state party convention, maybe a few lights will go on down in D.C. and people will finally understand - there are two worlds now, the legacy world and the real world, and you have to merge to win.
Maybe now, some people inside the beltway will finally get it. But then again.