Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What does it mean that the GOP spends so much less on new media?

Patrick Ruffini points out on techPresident that the GOP candidates are spending far less on in-house staff for new media than the Democratic candidates:
Looking closely at the list, I noticed another trend, and it's a disturbing one that ties depressingly into the issues by the YouTube debate. While Republicans and Democrats are spending almost equally on their Web efforts, Democrats are spending dramatically more on in-house staff. Approximately 36% of the Democrats' Web budgets are dedicated to staff, while less than 8% of the Republican budgets are. Overall, the Democratic candidates have 39 people working in the Web departments while Republicans have 18, spread over 9 active candidates. That works out to an average of 5.6 staffers per candidate on the Democrat side, and just 2 on the Republican side, encompassing both frontrunners and also-rans. Obama alone has 10 people on his Web staff... and it shows.

But what does it mean? Ruffini assumes that this percentage represents a significant lost opportunity, a bad tendency on the GOP side to outsource Web operations instead of dedicating "boots on the ground." He adds:

Most disturbingly, it shows that we are not investing in the human capital needed to drive our online efforts forward. If we can't innovate in a competitive primary environment, when can we innovate? The Democratic nominee will have access to nearly 40 bright minds who have direct Presidential campaign experience, and the Republican nominee will have access to less than half that. The key question(s) we need to ask ourselves are as follows. Would any campaign in their right mind tolerate a 3-1 imbalance in Political staff? In Communications staff? In Finance staff? So why is online different?

I'm no strategist, but I wonder if this has something to do with the candidates' perception of their voters. The GOP draws disproportionately from rural and suburban areas, and perhaps candidates believe that those voters are less likely to be attracted to a campaign via new media outreach. Or perhaps they believe that new media is for the young, and they think the young are not as important or reliable a demographic.

In any case, Ruffini points out that the exception on the GOP side is Ron Paul. Paul has leveraged the free infrastructure available to each of us (YouTube, Digg, etc.); perhaps that has freed up cash to spend on personnel?

techPresident – GOP Outgunned 3-1 on New Media Staff

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