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February 08, 2004

Dean and the Internet

Some are comparing Dean's meltdown to the dotcom hype and bubble bursting.

It's an easy metaphor, but really misses the point.

Kevin Drum has some good discussion on this and thinks that the Net demonstrated its effectiveness in raising money and building a campaign for Dean.

Kevin's right, and probably even underestimates how wrong the backlash against Dean's Net success is. The fact that the Internet did not guarantee Dean victory is a ridiculous test of its effectiveness.

I was one of the more skeptical folks in the blogosphere early on in hyping Dean's Internet success (see here and here), and I stand by the criticisms I made then of hyping the Internet over traditional mass organizations.

But in the context of election campaigns, Dean's success was stunning. He went from a barely known governor to the frontrunner in polls across the country. He raises tons of money and mobilized tens of thousands of grassroots volunteers.

And then he stumbled in very traditional ways. His TV ads were apparently not that great in Iowa and he got pulled into a destructive negative ad war with Gephardt-- mistakes that had nothing to do with the Internet. And his loss in Iowa was compounded by the media hyping of his "scream", which doomed his campaign.

The fact that the Internet got Dean to the point that he could fall so far is impressive. Judge its effectiveness by the heights it took Dean, not the depths he fell based on non-Internet related factors.

Posted by Nathan at February 8, 2004 11:14 AM