If you spent the end of August sunning, you might have missed a flurry of media discussion about how online tools are impacting political and issue campaigning. As we hunker down for the 60 day or so sprint to Election Day 2006, here's some of the prognosticating about online campaigning.

Guess what, TV still rules as far as professional campaign consultants are concerned. This report describes polling of 155 political consultants on behalf of the E-Voter Institute. Takeaways:

    • 44% of consultants estimated that only 1-5% of campaign budgets will go to online initiatives in 2006 (another 38% said 6-20%);
    • The favorite online means of campaigning are ads on newspaper websites, candidate websites, e-mail and blogs … all with a dose of rich-media content;
    • Looking to 2008, consultants' preferred media to win, in order, are: TV, direct mail, radio, web sites, e-mail, blogs, podcasts, newspaper ads, online ads;
    • Consultants regard online tools as more useful for raising money and attracting volunteers than for influencing voters.

At the same time, as the NY Times reports in “The YouTube Election,” practitioners are becoming very sensitized to the 24/7 exposure their candidates must survive as citizen-generated “coverage” blossoms on social networking sites.

The “racial slur” incident involving re-election candidate Senator George Allen (R-VA) is described, and a number of politicos, not specifically referring to Allen, warn of “the death of spontaneity” and even stronger attempts by managers to encase candidates in “scripted bubbles.” The point raised …

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