100 Counties Part I.5: The Online Campaign System

I realized as I composed Part II and as I answered questions to Part I, that there was really no way of doing this without getting folks on the same page with me as far as the Online Management System. Because, I think it is key to running a great grassroots campaign for a couple reasons.

• It makes it cheap.
• It centralizes the campaign
• It allows for quick interaction with the constituency, the state, the county, and other campaigns.
• It provides instant fundraising ability.
• It provides an instant method of signing up volunteers on the spot into a state-wide database that can then be used by the NCDP.

So, what does an Online Campaign System do?

First off, it is a completely browser-driven system that allows you to manage every aspect of your campaign, other than shaking hands, securely online from any computer. It allows you to have multiple people accessing the inner workings of your campaign with different levels of access or “My Pages”, for instance a Treasurer, a Communications Director, and a Field Director. There are a whole suite of products that can be added, but these are the ones that I see as most important.
Content Management. You need a really great website. With a centralized system you could have a series of generic templates that you can make your own. Go try the Blogger beta if you want to see what I am talking about. Their new model makes it so simple to design a webpage. I say give people a couple different options then teach them to upload photos and to paste text into the bios/positions/etc. Every candidate could have something like this, instead of something like this (sorry Bill). This part of the tool also includes all those little things like site search, calendars, blah blah blah.
Communication Management. Even an underdog could have a great communications setup with the right template. I envision something that allows the campaign to send out emails, press releases, interviews, letters, pamphlets, mailers, thank you cards, the whole deal. These kinds of products already exist, this is nothing new.
Contribution Management. There are a couple ways of doing this. In the best case scenario, there would be a centralized giving apparatus like ActBlue has only here in NC, just for the NCDP. But, in reality, why not just put a dedicated page with one of those little ActBlue giving scripts? On the other end, everything to do with finances should be managed through the online system as much as possible.
Volunteer Management. I’m going to stick to the facts, since I will be expanding on this in Part II. A state-wide database of contacts and volunteers. The database will have virtual partitions to allow candidates to call up only the volunteers and activists they signed up. But, the state party will be able to access the entire database for its 15 day GOTV program.
CRM. Which, based on your take of CRM might be redundant or might be the glue that holds it all together, or whatever. From wikipedia: Customer relationship management (CRM) covers methods and technologies used by companies to manage their relationships with clients. Information stored on existing customers (and potential customers) is analyzed and used to this end. Automated CRM processes are often used to generate automatic personalized marketing based on the customer information stored in the system.

So, that’s it. That’s part I.5. A centralized Online Campaign System set up by the party, for the party. Now, if the party doesn't feel up to this or they don't feel like they want to participate. Then, by all means, we should do this ourselves. For instance, the BlueNC website could have all of these functions integrated through shareware, which could be made available to highly progressive candidates in every NC district. We would lose the higher-order databasing, but c'est la vie.

As for cost, this system could be "purchased" by those candidates who are already elected and running for office. Also, the winner of the Presidential primary could "purchase" the volunteer contact list for GOTV efforts, to be coordinated with NCDP. There are other ways of paying for this, but those are a few ideas.

Also, just let me say that THIS POST is the chance for all my fellow technoweanies to jump in and make corrections and suggestions. My technoweanie side tends towards science and not computers and databases, I have just enough background to be dangerous. So, please, jump in, make suggestions or corrections. All comments welcome - good or bad.

Comments

Ed Cone provides a great link.

to a story on Bowles not seizing this kind of initiative in 2003.
Thanks for the link on the other story A.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Ed Cone's point...

Yes, he also mentions Matt Gross who is now working for John Edwards.

I wonder if someone with connections to the Edwards camp

might pass along the links to this series when it is done. I think the eventual Presidential nominee would be very lucky to have the 100 Counties strategy in place if they want to win North Carolina. Certainly, the Senator must be considering winning his homestate?

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Edwards winning his homestate

Oh, yes, I'm sure, should Senator Edwards choose to run, that the campaign will be running full speed here in his home state. He could swing our state, which would be a first, since, when, the 70s?

As far as relaying your idea, one thing that is so terrific about John Edwards' One America Committee, is that they are very accessible to regular folks---so I'm sure you will have an opportunity to pass on your information or maybe even talk with someone about it, at some point. Moreover, John Edwards is very supportive of the netroots!

You're absolutely right.

When all the parts are out I'll post a diary with summary's and links to the different parts. I know there are a lot of Carolinians there.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Great idea

I'm sure there is also someone you can email your summary w/links to.

I also wanted to comment on your point about fundraising...I recently read that campaigns can expect to raise at least 10x on the internet, through small donations, of what they did in 2004. That is millions of dollars. So, yes, campaigns are going to take the netroots even more seriously than ever, which of course, is great for us. We are fast becoming a very strong supporter base, in part, due to Dean's success in 04 online.

The 2008 presidential election will be like no other, as far as the netroots. Exciting times!

Absolutely

Plus, we are getting lots of attention from current national, state, and local officials who, I think, are happy to have such an easy way of keeping track of their constituents.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Ed Cone's point...

Yes, he also mentions Matt Gross who is now working for John Edwards.

How many districts?

Robert P.,

Your willingness to initiate this conversation and move towards community action is admirable and exciting. Thanks.

Where didn't we run people this last election? My district has gone blueyblueblue with Susan Fisher, Martin Nesbitt, and Heath Shuler. Where are we deficient?

A good O/S will piggy back on another more popular site like BlueNC, NCDP, etc.

Let's get recruiting and fundraising!

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

Just as an example, look inside NC08

NC STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 083 (Cabarrus County)
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Linda P. Johnson REP 10,868
No Democrat.

NC STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 082 (Cabarrus County)
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Jeff Barnhart REP 11,211
No Democrat.

NC STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 068 (Union County)
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Curtis Blackwood REP 16,759
No Democrat.

NC STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 067 (Union County)
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
David Almond REP 13,732
No Democrat.

NC STATE SENATE DISTRICT 35 (Mecklenburg, Union)
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
W. Edward (Eddie) Goodall, Jr. REP 29,143
No Democrat.

NC STATE SENATE DISTRICT 29 (Montgomery, Randolph)
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Jerry W. Tillman REP 23,748
No Democrat.

And, I'm not even sure that is all of them.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

40 Seats

were uncontested by the Democrats this year - 31 in the house, and 9 in the Senate.

NC HOUSE DISTRICT 16 REP Carolyn Justice HAMPSTEAD
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 19 REP Danny McComas WILMINGTON
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 26 REP Leo Daughtry SMITHFIELD
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 28 REP James H. Langdon, Jr. ANGIER
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 40 REP Marilyn Avila RALEIGH
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 52 REP Joe Boylan PINEHURST
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 61 REP Laura Wiley HIGH POINT
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 62 REP John M. Blust GREENSBORO
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 64 REP Cary D. Allred BURLINGTON
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 67 REP David Almond STANFIELD
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 68 REP Curtis Blackwood MATTHEWS
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 73 REP Larry R. Brown KERNERSVILLE
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 74 REP Dale Robbins Folwell WINSTON-SALEM
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 75 REP William C. (Bill) McGee CLEMMONS
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 76 REP Fred F. Steen, II LANDIS
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 78 REP Harold J. Brubaker ASHEBORO
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 79 REP Julia Craven Howard MOCKSVILLE
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 80 REP Jerry C. Dockham DENTON
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 82 REP Jeff Barnhart CONCORD
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 83 REP Linda P. Johnson KANNAPOLIS
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 84 REP Phillip Frye SPRUCE PINE
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 87 REP Edgar V. Starnes GRANITE FALLS
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 89 REP Mitchell Smith Setzer CATAWBA
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 92 REP George Holmes HAMPTONVILLE
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 95 REP Karen Ray MOORESVILLE
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 96 REP Mark K. Hilton CONOVER
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 97 REP Joe L. Kiser VALE
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 98 REP Thom Tillis HUNTERSVILLE
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 109 REP William A. Current GASTONIA
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 113 REP Trudi Walend BREVARD
NC HOUSE DISTRICT 120 REP Roger West MARBLE
NC SENATE DISTRICT 17 REP Richard Stevens CARY
NC SENATE DISTRICT 29 REP Jerry W. Tillman ARCHDALE
NC SENATE DISTRICT 30 REP Don W. East PILOT MOUNTAIN
NC SENATE DISTRICT 31 REP Peter Samuel (Pete) Brunstetter LEWISVILLE
NC SENATE DISTRICT 33 REP STAN BINGHAM DENTON
NC SENATE DISTRICT 35 REP W. Edward (Eddie) Goodall, Jr. MATTHEWS
NC SENATE DISTRICT 39 REP Robert Pittenger CHARLOTTE
NC SENATE DISTRICT 41 REP James (Jim) Forrester STANLEY
NC SENATE DISTRICT 48 REP Tom Apodaca HENDERSONVILLE

Damn you're great...

Stunning Robert. A cookie cutter approach to campaign management infrastructure flexible enough for elections from dog catcher to US Senate. A platform that activists at all levels understand and can contribute to...

Wonderful.

Hey, want to direct your attention to a new fan of your work.

CitizenWill
there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class

CitizenWill
there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. MLK,Jr. to SCLC Leadership Class

Will...

If the party balks at this idea, expect a phone call.
: )

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Terrific so far, Robert

There are some awesome CMS (content management systems) out there that allow for easy updating, easy customizing with relatively little expertise. See Vote for Terry Marquez. Other examples can be seen at mamboserver.com. (We didn't win, but we looked mahvelous.)

As for the database - what about the VAN data that the NCDP did training on earlier this year? Granted, there were glitches we ran into in our county, but at least it was accessible online, and we were able to download and make changes for our own notes/purposes.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi

I would see VAN being accessible to all comers.

Then, each candidate would have their own "partition" of activists. The NCDP gets updated voter info from the candidates and "master control" over the activist list for the final 15 day GOTV effort.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

I love this!

n/t

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi

Just a point to keep in mind.

George Allen did not win because he had no ground-game. In addition, the "vaunted Republican 72-hour GOTV" effort was not in place.
Why?
Because it takes them a year or more to set it up.
What I'm proposing here is something akin to that, but run through multiple layers of coverage.
1. NC House seats.
2. NC Senate seats.
3. County Commissioners.
4. County Democratic Party.
5. US House seats.
6. US Senate seats.
7. Governor.
8. Lt. Governor.
9. NCDP.
10. President.

Even if some of this doesn't happen in each district, I think the important focus should be on the NC House and Senate. If the governor candidates and Presidential candidates decide to ignore Stanly county, should we? No. We should have active county leaders, precinct leaders, and cluster leaders right down to every voter.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

I love ActBlue

There's nothing quite like making an impulse donation of $20 -- with a thousand other people at 6am with a cup of hot coffee and a cat in your lap -- then sitting back and watching the numbers go up. :) A similar system for state and local candidates would be wonderful.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I love it too.

One of our plans that didn't happen this year was an NC Progressive ActBlue page. The sad truth is, we couldn't get all the candidates we wanted to set up their ActBlue profiles (they had to do it, we couldn't). Which means we couldn't link to them, which means they didn't get support from the 10,000+ visitors to BlueNC in October.

Next cycle, we'll have to be more disciplined/methodical/whatever to make sure we get this done early.

Robert's provided a magnificent blueprint . . . totally awesome . . . now we need to get the carpenters, electricians, plumbers, sheetrockers, roofers, painters, etc., lined up to build this sucker.

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

I'm not sure why

but I don't really think many Lege candidates were aware that ActBlue was available to them for fundraising. Mine wasn't. Actually, I didn't even know they had pushed down to state races this year until about a month before the elections. There was a whole lot o'learning going on in Johnston this year. That'll work out well for everybody down the road.

Robert's ideas are magnificent. They're beautiful. I've forwarded his posts to our county Chair.

A BlueNC fundraising page for NC candidates will be awesome! And I think i'm gonna need a second job to support my political donating habit. ;)

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

And don't forget the decorators

As Robert pointed out, a better look is always better.

Robert, this is awsome! We can do this and it gives me hope for our county and NC. If we get this up and running in time, perhaps we can initiate the same idea in other states (mainly Southern) that may help Dems too.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

nuts and bolts?

Sounds great!

where do we start? do we take an existing extendable cms and add to it? make a new one from scratch? it clearly has to be simple enough for a campaign with limited resources and/or web skills to manage. but managing wont be enough, there has to be some support built into the system here.

We'll need people to build it. We'll need people to support it, and we'll need people with special skills to help personalize it (because Susy Q. Candidate might not know anyone who can 'shop up a good looking graphic.)

So, volunteers?

I'm in.

-b

I htink the great thing about this...

is that a lot of kick-ass programmers, databasers, and everything else we need are DEMS! If you were microtargeting dems, these categories would be enought to asssume, we need to get that gal's vote.

So, I'm hoping we can get a lot of help on a project like this.

But, I still have this hope of hope that the NCDP will work with us to truly make this work in every County.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

more thoughts on content

So while I was procrastinating on my paper, I had some more thoughts.

first, I liked this dkos story about being media-friendly with photos on a website.

So it makes me think, Sharon Shoestring's County Commissioner campaign needs professional photographs... another campaign needs IT help, a third needs some people to canvass, etc. If we build up a campaign management system, can we also think about a campaign coordination system? I mean, really, it's already there, but it's not centralized or simplified.

just tell me when I stop making sense.

-B

It's new, it's cool and it works

From the IT folks at Howard Deans primary run the tool is already built and I have a beta account if folks want to brainstorm. It's called civicspace on demand
http://www.civicspacelabs.org/LLC

Here is the mailer I got a few days ago, i applied for the free beta account and just got one:

CivicSpace On Demand, our CivicSpace service (ASP), is in production with customers and offers:

Turnkey online fundraising, email marketing, website and supporter database.
No installation and upgrade hassles. All Drupal/CiviCRM upgrades are automatic.
No servers to maintain. You access CivicSpace On Demand via your web browser.
Blast email & donations up and running in minutes.

Use username/password demo/demo.

Tired of trying to maintain and upgrade your CivicSpace sites? Consider migrating to CivicSpace On Demand. We'll handle all the configuration details, implement a turnkey solution for you, and make sure the site meets your specific needs.

For the Do-It-Yourselfers, we are happy to provide a free CivicSpace On Demand BETA account for people actively building out prototypes or production solutions for organizations. Just tell us about it, and we'll get you a free BETA account.

If you just want to kick the tires of CivicSpace On Demand, try the demo. All CivicSpace open source development (and downloads) have been migrated with the Drupal and CiviCRM communities.

If folks are interested I can turn over my beta account to the community and we can give it a whirl.

This is one of the things I wasa thinking about, but...

Lance has some great ideas about doing this work. My personal preference is to get the party involved. I know it is hard to wait, but part II is coming today, then I plan on contacting the party to see what they have to say about leading this effort.

Again, if not, we've got all the people we need right here to Get 'er Done!

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

What about

building a media/IT interface team around each of the district coordinators. Seems like district coordinators would be a good reference or meeting point for identifying candidates that need new media help and ones who don't.Of course, the ideal would be for each coordinator to have a paid team of two/three people, but that's unlikely. They could swoop into a campaign, set them up, train them and go on to the next camp.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I was thinking something along these lines.

"Our team" trains one state-wide coordinator, that then moves from quarter to quarter making sure the district coordinators are up to speed, but also spends time in as many counties helping out as possible.

Plus, just like with certain things this year, people in well-equipped counties could help out smaller counties. The plethora of CS/IT people in Orange County could drive down to Stanly for a day to help people get up to speed.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

2 Separate Projects

I think that that what you're talking about here can be split into two separate projects without breaking anything important, and the result will probably be more flexibility. I'm thinking that the candidate website thing could and should be its own project.

BlueNC used to be run on Civicspace. I haven't paid attention to the On Demand program since it was in testing, but the thing to do might be to develop a pool of BlueNCers with skills that might be helpful in setting up websites and who would be willing to volunteer to help campaigns with their Civicspace On Demand sites (or wordpress, or whatever).

I can agree with that so long as...

if the larger goal comes to fruition it is compatible with Drupal or Civicspace.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

I think we can avoid re-inventing the wheel

Or at least look into simply rolling out and supporting options that are already built: CivicSpace, CiviCRM pop to mind first, and civiCRM does the three main CRM tasks you're talking about: mail, contributions, and members.

-B

Great.

If we end up having to do this ourselves, as I mentioned in response to someone else's comment, I suggest we find a few Progressives, make templates, and get to work.

IF, we have to do it all ourselves.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

my point exactly up thread,

my point exactly up thread, especially with the new civic space on demand