As laid out in the Washington Post's recent interesting article "Online, GOP Is Playing Catch-Up," the differences between how the D's and R's are approaching and utilizing the Internet are striking. Dems are out-raising, out-podcasting, out-youtubing and out-friending Republicans by significant margins. By almost every measure, Democrats are utilizing the web more creatively and more productively than the Republicans.
Nope, that's not partisan politics speaking -- Michael Turk, who was in charge of Internet strategy for President Bush's 2004 campaign says "We're losing the web right now." Some point to the Republican party's traditional focus of "staying on message" as the culprit -- the web is clearly more suited to the chaotic, many voices, "I don't belong to an organized party, I'd a Democrat" approach that has long characterized the Democratic party.
As Peter Leyden of the New Politics Institute puts it, "All this talking and discussing and fighting energizes everyone, involves everyone, and gets people totally into it." That's one of the benefits of the web and a clear advantage for Democrats.
In the midst of all this hoopla, though, the larger lessons of the application of the Internet in politics remain murky. What this campaign has the potential to show us is whether all the online rabble-rousing really will make a difference -- or whether the more traditional approaches will still serve to sway the hearts and minds of voters.
Probably a little of each.