The 2006 cycle is in the rearview mirror and the 2008 Presidential campaign is already ramping up. Given that, I figured I’d take a quick look at the contenders and speculate as to how aggressively they will use the Internet in their campaigns. We’ll start with the Democrats (I’m working from this list).

Evan Bayh

Bayh has a pretty good site for his Political Action Committee – All American PAC. The site’s blog is updated daily and features a blogroll and allows registered users to comment. Bayh has a YouTube account and an extremely active Facebook profile (there are 16 Bayh related Facebook groups). Bayh has also posted discussion topics on Gather.

Bottom Line: The Bayh campaign has shown an interest and aptitude for new media (blogs, social video, etc.). I think Bayh will run a pretty compelling online campaign in 2008.

Joe Biden

All we really have to go on here is Biden’s PAC site – Unite Our States. It is pretty standard stuff. He’s got a nice mini-site about his plan for Iraq and the PAC site does include a blog. But the blog is written anonymously, doesn’t allow comments and doesn’t link to other blogs. There are eight Biden related groups on Facebook but he doesn’t have his own profile.

Bottom Line: Judging from the PAC site, I don’t think the Biden campaign will be breaking any new ground.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton had what I think was the best Senate campaign website of the 2006 cycle. It is still up and running – I suspect they are in the process of retooling it for the Presidential run. It basically had every feature you could think of – a store, fundraising campaigns, team building, event planning, etc. The only thing it didn’t have was a blog. Clinton took a hands off approach to the liberal blogosphere last cycle, although she had a blog consultant that probably did a great deal of work behind the scenes. Interestingly, the 2006 Clinton website almost seemed like the kind of site the Bush campaign would put together – it was top down in nature and focused more on giving out marching orders than on collabaration and discussion.

Clinton has a profile on Facebook and there are 356 Clinton themed Facebook groups. Note there are just as many people organizing against her as in support of her though.

Bottom Line: Clinton is going to have a great, full featured website in 2008. However, I’d expect her to run a cautious campaign online. Online, she’ll run like a favorite and try to avoid being dragged to the left by liberal bloggers.

Chris Dodd

Dodd has a personal website up and running that looks like the beginnings of a Presidential site. It looks nice, but is pretty much the definition of a brochure site. No blog. Nothing to do really except give them money or join their listerv. There are seven Dodd related groups on Facebook but he doesn’t have his own profile. I don’t really know anything about Dodd’s previous web efforts.

Bottom Line: Not really much to judge from. But I’d guess the Dodd web presence will be competent, but uninspiring.

Barack Obama

Neither Obama’s personal website or his Senate site are particularly compelling at this point. They are both professionally done but there just isn’t much to them. And I honestly don’t remember much about Obama’s 2004 Senate site. But interestingly, Obama is a successful podcaster. Obama has the 16th most popular News & Politics podcast on iTunes and is the most successful podcasting politicians by a ways. What’s particularly impressive here is that it is an actual podcast created specifically for the web and not just a collection of speeches rebranded as a podcast. Obama has a Facebook profile and there are 255 groups devoted to him.

Bottom Line: Not much to go on really, but if forced I’d guess Obama will use the web as his own personal media outlet. He’ll create a lot of web-specific content with the intention of speaking directly to voters without the filter of the media.

Bill Richardson

Richardson’s campaign site for his 2006 run for Governor in New Mexico is still up and it is sort of fascinating. From the New Mexico inspired graphics to the pictures of Richardson dressed up as a cowboy, it is clear that Richardson isn’t afraid to show a little personality. Besides the design, the most prominent feature of the site is it’s blog, The Plaza. It features a DailyKos style Diaries section where users can maintain their own blogs on the site. So he’s trying to build a community of users here and in the process is giving up some control. Richardson does not have a Facebook profile.

Bottom Line: I’d look for more quirkiness from Richardson and for him to continue to emphasize community building.

I’ll do a preview of the web programs of Wesley Clark, John Edwards, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Tom Vilsack next week.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.