What a difference a cycle makes. Already, we are seeing more and more great pieces written about the impact of new media on the election. It is far greater than is apparent in just the massive online fundraising numbers that Barack Obama is posting from online donors.
As Peter Daou aptly pointed out, the netroots carried forth when many traditional sources of power were silenced.
The other day Arianna brought up the fact that the Republicans are running from an old playbook, one where the traditional media takes any charge, say whether a candidate actually earned his purple hearts, and carries it forward donkey-esque as the 'other side of the story.' While this ignores a basic relationship, the opposite of the truth is a lie not another truth, it's how politics used to work (and still does partially.)
However, from my personal perspective, there is one more place where I see a massive difference between now and 2004 and that is the explosion of direct to voter video. Great messaging on behalf of our presidential candidate is not just coming from his campaign but from an explosion of sources that are combining:
Low Production Costs
Free Distribution Outlets
I can't help but wonder what would have happened if in 2004 we had been able to post personal rebuttals of all of the veterans who served with John Kerry pointing out that John O'Neill never served one single day with John Kerry in Vietnam. Would that have helped? I think so.
This time around, so many have led the charge, I hesitate to call any single person out but I think it's fair to say Robert Greenwald and the team at Brave New Films have been more than significant players.
What they and others have realized is that it is a different world this time around. Four years ago, this week, I was in an edit suite in New York City. Having spent the year on the Kerry Campaign, there was significant concern that the quality of the advertising coming from the campaign team was, well, total crap.
All across the country, at major agencies, top creative people were sending piles of great ideas in the hope that the campaign would actually do them. Hope is the operative word here unfortunately because while there were great ideas, truly great ideas, there was no chance whatsoever that Bob Shrum was going to produce a single commercial for the Kerry Campaign that he didn't make 15% from, no chance.
Luckily, this time around, we don't have to hope for a campaign consultant to include great ideas in the campaign buy. There are so many other sites and opportunities out there for people to see the spots, that great ideas are getting produced, and they are getting out.
Here's a perfect example of what we are talking about.
These projects fall under an umbrella called "Conservatives For Change." Created and produced by a top Los Angeles advertising agency, they are powerful and are being distributed across the web. Again, last time, these guys would have been pushing ideas uphill into a campaign structure, now, the world is seeing the concepts.
Here is a great four minute video of lifelong conservatives who are now supporting Sen. Obama:
What does it all mean?
Well, consider this.
Four years ago, Huffington Post and YouTube didn't exist. Now they, and many others, are critical in the conversation. The future is what fascinates me. I believe you can run campaigns completely different now. Consider this, based upon YouTube numbers, I believe this is a clear fact:
Today, more people will see political spots online than via broadcast television.
It's a powerful new world. Caveat consultant.