On Election Day, Candidates Diverge on Web Organizing
On election day, a candidate’s website becomes a crucial hub for outreach and mobilization. In another sign of their drastically different approaches to organizing, the Obama and McCain campaigns diverge sharply in how they are using their websites today.
Below are the main pages that greet visitors on both sites, taken from an early morning screen grab:
Obama’s aides have turned over the entire site into a call to action. The bright, urgent message enlists people to punch in their zip code and volunteer, or at least see what’s happening in their area. There’s basically no other option.
Sen. John McCain’s page is a different story. It feels like MySpace, automatically playing a video as visitors log on and overwhelming people with a packed menu. There are six different options for getting involved — probably overkill for Election Day — and the top priority is a request for people’s email. It is too late, however, for a campaign to get much out of new supporter emails. The next priority is a persuasion message, which is odd. Election day is about mobilization, not winning people over on message. You drop GOTV fliers on Election Day door-knocking, for example, not health-care white papers.
Sen. Barack Obama’s site pulled about three million unique visitors last week, about double McCain’s take, and today both sites should draw plenty of people searching for last-minute information. Whether voters find any useful, targeted information, of course, depends on what the campaign organizers provide.
Come to think of it, maybe those organizers have “actual responsibilities” after all.