Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Ron Paul leads the way online, but struggles to turn this into ballot box success

Whilst the UK media debate the relative merits of the main presidential campaigns (Hillary vs Obama, McCain vs Huckabee), Ron Paul has had little coverage - eg Marketing Week's recent article here: http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=59582

At the start of the campaign bookmakers ranked Ron Paul as least likely (of the 12 Republican candidates) to get the Republican nomination, however since then he has defied these odds! Despite not having the deep-pocketed backers that some of the other candidates have, Ron Paul's campaigners have proved very effective at raising money - interesting insights into campaign funding here: http://paul4prez.blogspot.com

The key to this has been the mass mobilisation of support from online communities through websites, blogs and social networks like Facebook / MySpace. Commentators may be impressed by some of the Obama online initiatives, but these are small fry in comparison to the scale of Ron Paul's online support. Ron Paul's libertarian attitude has inspired an army of full time online advocates and they have ensured that Ron Paul's message dominates the internet - with campaign badges (like the one below) turning up everywhere online:

Ron Paul 2008 - Hope for America

Ron Paul supporters have been closely monitoring online activity and have been relentless in spreading the message - when Ron Paul has been discussed, supporters have been quick to leave comments. Furious Digging to push pro-Ron Paul stories to the Digg homepage has even led some to accuse Ron Paul supporters of corrupting the service / acting outside of the spirit of it! (It will be interesting to see if anyone comments on this post and, if they do, it will be interesting to see how quickly comments turn up after I have published it!)

A particularly quirky campaign technique has been for supporters to urge others to 'Google Ron Paul'. Various home-made signs and banners have encouraged people to do this - the following was posted to Flickr by Braudomatic (click image for link):

Posted to Flickr by Ian Geldard:

The volume of 'Ron Paul' results showing on Google gives the appearance of Ron Paul being a major player in the Presidential Race - Google trends shows how Ron Paul has consistently been one of the most Searched for candidates. Pushing people to Search for 'Ron Paul' on Google also allows tactical Adwords ads to be served (more insight here: http://www.infowars.net/articles/december2007/141207Zeitgeist.htm)

Many candidates have fallen by the wayside, but Ron Paul is still in the race! Whilst it looks unlikely that anything will prevent John McCain from getting the official Republican nomination, Ron Paul's ideas still seem to be influencing the GOP agenda.

The main thing that Ron Paul's campaign will be remembered for, though, is the way that it has taken online campaigning to the next level. Against all odds his relentless internet activity has resulted in the securing of significant funds and has enabled him to consistently be putting out messages that challenge the agendas of more heavily supported candidates.

Dr. No may not win, but there is no doubt that he has set the standard for online political campaigning!

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