President Obama’s ability to leverage the web and social media to build his 2008 Presidential campaign and rake in mega campaign cash was unprecedented in success, and will stand as the benchmark for future political campaigns.
But this wasn’t a one-time phenomenon – and it doesn’t always work to a candidates advantage. Case in point – Joe Wilson.
At yesterday’s joint Congressional Address on Health Care Reform, an immature 10 year old boy Joe Wilson started heckling the President, yelling “You lie!” Historically, Joint Congressional Addresses are a time when the President is allowed to speak, and Congress is supposed to listen. This kind of behavior is unusual and shameful, and Mr. Wilson has been widely lambasted for it. But that’s not what is noteworthy – look further into the web and you’ll see.
Exhibit A: Microsites like http://www.joewilsonisyourpreexistingcondition.com/ have been sprouting up all over the place, a Public Relations embarassment to the Representative and calling viewers to donate to his 2010 challenger, Rob Miller.
Exhibit B: Liberal power-house “Act Blue” has seen many grass-roots campaigns to raise money for Rob Miller to challenge Joe Wilson, with names such as “Defeating the man who yelled “liar” at Obama: Goodbye Rep Joe Wilson” to “Californians against Joe “The Jerk” Wilson” (note he is a Rep. of South Carolina…). On ActBlue alone, Rob Miller has raked in over $200,000 and counting in donations IN THE PAST 24 HOURS!
Exhibit C: The influx in traffic and attention has caused Joe Wilson’s House of Representatives website to crash and his followers on Twitter to triple (note the conspicious lack of updates since the event).
The viral web continues to spread, experiencing compounding network effects through Twitter (a trending topic for the past 12 hours!), press coverage of Rob Miller’s fundraising abilites on major networks like CNN, and now e-mail blasts from MoveOn.Org and other liberal PACs. While still to be determined how much of this momentum will be translated into fund raising for Joe Wilson’s opponents, the early numbers are already in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and likely to increase for the next few days.
Mr. Joe Wilson is learning just how powerful the web can be for fundraising…just not in the direction he’d prefer.
Further testament to the power of the viral web, and in my opinion, a healthy landscape for Democracy to florish – with greater accountability for politicians who do the right thing, or sometimes those that don’t…
Note: Although my political preferences may be clear from the tone of the article above, I respect the Right and don’t find it characteristic of the party as a whole. This post is merely about how an inappropriate outburst can go viral and cause deterimental damage to a Politicians career, literally overnight. It could and has happened to Democrats (i.e. Blagojevich, Spitzer, etc.) or Independents as well.