We got a question this week from Darren in Arkansas, a fan who is not a candidate himself but wonders whether you can win a local election with nothing more than a great Internet presence.
. . . so to get to my point do you think it’s possible, if a candidate in a political campaign has nothing more than a great website, and runs the best online campaign possible, could he or she win with nothing more than using the Internet? Like for instance, if someone was not able to leave their home could they win a political campaign just from their computer. Personally I think it is possible myself.
It’s a good question, Darren, although I do wonder how a political candidate who couldn’t leave his home would make it to meetings if he won on election day. But I digress.
Websites and the Internet have become a much more important aspect of successful political campaigns in recent years, especially with the advent of online social media and fundraising tools. As a political candidate, having a great online presence can help you raise money, reach more voters, and mobilize grassroots support . . . even in smaller local elections.
I would not, however, want to be the first candidate to test your theory about being able to win a local political campaign by only using the Internet. While putting together a great online strategy can help tremendously, the fact is that nothing is more important when it comes to winning elections than good old-fashioned shoe leather and elbow grease.
A political candidate website and Internet presence should be used to compliment your other campaign fronts, such as door-to-door efforts and direct mail. Inviting voters to visit your website and follow your social media profile (Twitter and Facebook, for example) on campaign literature is a great way to get them find out more about your candidacy and your message. It can give you a “double hit” of publicity, so to speak, if voters who receive your mailers or door cards are interested enough to log on and look you up online.
I also doubt that there is really any way that you could run a political campaign exclusively on the Internet and keep your message from appearing anywhere but online. How would the voters ever have the opportunity to even find out about you website or social media presence in the first place? I suppose a candidate could invest in online advertising, local newspaper website banner ads and bulk email lists, but it would be very arduous and expensive to do.
It’s fine to rely on a top-notch Internet presence and online strategy as your local political campaign’s secret weapon, but don’t ignore the more traditional methods of campaigning in the process. The people who you associate with might get most of their news and information online, but don’t forget that there’s a significant portion of the electorate that still relies on newspapers and word-of-mouth.