The Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet is giving out its Golden Dot awards today and tomorrow at the Politics Online Conference. The awards recognize the best intersections between politics and technology. Barack Obama and Ron Paul were named the Democratic and Republican online politicians of the year.
Barack Obama’s was voted the best candidate website, while Ron Paul’s was voted the most networked Republican campaign, and Obama’s was its Democratic counterpart. Obama also won for awards for best online campaign and the best online get out the vote campaign. Obama’s Yes We Can video won for the best supporter created web video, and Obama won the Democrat Technology Impact Moment of the year for his announcement of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate.
The big Republican winner was the Prop 8 movement, which was voted the Republican Technology Moment of the Year, and the Best Online Advertising Campaign. Prop 8 was also named the Republican Outstanding State and Local Campaign. 2008 Republican nominee John McCain won the award for Best Campaign Video for “The One.” The only Sarah Palin related award was for Best Online Game for Dress Like a Palin.
There were no upsets in these awards. Obama and Paul dominated the Internet in 2008. Obama’s campaign website was not like anything we have seen before. It was the perfect mix of online activism and information resource. Ron Paul has turned social networking into an art form. The GOP may think that they are catching up through Facebook and Twitter, but their efforts on those two platforms are still light years behind the way Rep. Paul organized.
McCain’s campaign website suffered for the same reason that Hillary Clinton’s did. They both were fine until the money ran out. One of the areas that each of these campaigns cut back was their websites. It was noticeable for Clinton after Super Tuesday, and McCain’s website started off with bells and whistles, but was never updated enough.
People forget that when Hillary Clinton had the fundraising advantage, she was churning out net videos on her site, but Obama was better at using his site as a community and an organizing tool. I visited these sites on a daily basis, so I have my own opinions on the subject. In general Democrats are ahead of Republicans in this area. Republicans, except for Ron Paul, don’t get that their sites should be used, not only for fund raising, but for information and networking.
Supporters go to these sites to get news, and meet other people who share their views. Too many Republicans still aren’t using their sites to their full potential. The website should be a destination point for multiple reasons. Republican websites also tend to be less attractive, and not as easy to navigate, which to me points towards the candidates’ lack of emphasis on the web. I think that Obama and Paul have shown what the Internet can do, so I expect that candidates from both parties will become much more aggressive with their Internet strategies.