Lessons from Lamont


There’s one interesting interesting analysis this morning on the Lieberman loss in the Washington Post. It focuses on what turned out to be the powerful combination of the netroots and grassroots for the Lamont campaign.

Zephyr (Sunlight’s National Director and the Dean campaign’s Internet brain) and I talked about whether we agreed with this analysis this morning and whether there is more to be learned. (Too bad we didn’t do it on IM or I would just put it here.)  

We agree that the breakthrough for Lamont wasn’t necessarily the use of the Internet but how he used it. Since 2004 candidates have increasingly "used" the internet, but mostly used it as an alien force, not as an aspect of every part of the campaign itself. For a campaign not to use the Internet to amplify everything you do would be like not using the telephone.

The Lamont campaign had a different — and obviously much better — approach. It used the Internet to enable people’s creativity and passions, instead of simply to direct doorknockers and mobilize (though they did that too). They brought to the campaign people with enormous creativity and passion, rather than shunning them. They used techniques like video blogging with people who were really passionate about their candidate. They repeatedly proved that openness in the process of campaigning actually works. This kind of attitude and approach — serve the people who want to work with you, enable them, ala Craig Newmark — is essential for meaningful political participation. And it results in robust involvement of real people in the campaign.

We also can’t overlook the role that political bloggers played in this race, not directly in  reaching voters (Zephyr’s hunch is that number of primary voters actually reading blogs would be less than 10 percent) but in how they shaped the race for the national press, which in turn affected local voters as they got a sense of its importance.

Lessons for all of us.