August 9, 2006 11:15 AM PDT

Lieberman defeat a win for 'Netroots' politics?

It may have been frequently described as a referendum on the war in Iraq, but last night's Connecticut Democratic primary battle could also be considered an indicator of the Internet's future as a political tool.

Buzz about the political blogosphere and its potential power reached the national scene during the 2004 presidential race, when former Vermont governor Howard Dean made a name for himself with a campaign that was largely run online. Dean's defeat in the primaries, however, led many to believe that perhaps the Internet's potential as a campaign tool was overrated.

But now that 18-year incumbent and one-time vice presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman has failed to win the Democratic nomination for Connecticut's Senate seat thanks to millionaire cable-TV executive and political novice Ned Lamont, candidates from across the political spectrum may be looking at the "Netroots" more seriously.

Lamont's campaign had an official blogger, regular support from liberal mega-blog DailyKos, and a YouTube group called "Nedheads" that currently ranks 13th in membership on the popular video site. And most Lamont supporters are eager to paint Lieberman as quite the technophobe, a task made easier when the senator's official Web site mysteriously crashed on primary day. Lieberman's campaign suspected the work of malicious Lamont followers; liberal bloggers laughed it off and suggested that perhaps Lieberman's staff hadn't anticipated the amount of bandwidth they'd need to handle election-day traffic.

A Netroots turning point?
According to Lowell Feld, the official "Netroots Coordinator" for Jim Webb, the Democrat who will be challenging incumbent Republican Senator George Allen in Virginia this November, last night's primary was a sign that the blogosphere (or Netroots, a truncation of "Internet grassroots") has established itself as a powerful force in electoral politics.

"The enthusiasm and interest in (the Lieberman-Lamont primary) was incredible," says Feld, a Lamont supporter, citing the various blogs as well as major news sources that experienced bandwidth problems during the primary as a consequence of Internet users trying to find out the race results. "That shows you something right there."

"The Lamont campaign is the best example to date of a tech-savvy campaign," says Zack Exley, who worked at liberal political action committee MoveOn.org when it first emerged during the 2004 elections and later did work for John Kerry's unsuccessful presidential bid before branching out into nonprofit work. A tech-savvy campaign, he says, is one that "understands that the purpose of technology in politics is to get boots on the ground in the real world, and to actually sway voters and turn out voters in reality," a point sometimes missed by campaigns grounded in the online realm.

Lamont's best online tactic, according to Exley, was his first one: The Greenwich businessman's initial campaign announcement said that he would run only if 10,000 volunteers and donors pledged their support. "I think that was the most innovative thing that he did online," Exley observes, "and it really allowed his campaign to start so much faster than it otherwise would have. It allowed him to almost immediately generate powerful grassroots and financial support for his campaign." Exley thinks we'll see other politicians adopt that model, including those in the 2008 presidential primaries.

Besides the blogosphere's strength as a recruitment tool, it can help a candidate by simply being loud enough to attract the attention of the mainstream media, Feld said. "The interest (within traditional media) was enormous," he said. "Why was the interest so enormous? Sure, Lieberman was Al Gore's running mate in 2000, but was it that interesting of a race inherently? Once the Netroots really got in there and started publicizing it and getting enthused about it, it certainly ratcheted it up a few notches."

Yankee Group analyst Jennifer Simpson describes the Netroots as an emerging strategy for bringing together and publicizing already-existing political sentiment. "What we are beginning to realize about blogs is that they represent some feelings that are already out there. By making those feelings available on the Net, you are able to spread them." Prominent blogs, such as DailyKos on the left and RedState on the right, "can really begin to influence who's doing what." But Simpson is reluctant to make assumptions. "It can be very hard to assess the exact power of blogs," she said.

When asked about future implications, Simpson maintains that it's too early to tell, and stresses that a statewide primary election is very different from a national election like the presidency. The "blogosphere" represents "an ongoing and expanding array of tools" for political campaigns, she says, but national campaigns will need to reach a much wider audience and consequently will have to rely on both traditional and new media.

But that won't diminish the enthusiasm among the pro-Lamont crowd, excited over not only their victory but also the potential to further shake up the establishment. On both sides of the political spectrum, Lowell Feld says, "the Netroots is very difficult to control. It's a force, an independent force. You can try to guide it and shape it, but it doesn't necessarily succumb to that at all."

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46 comments

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This was the best news I've heard all year
Now is truly the beginning of the end of the democratic party, thank god. This "Net" movement will obviously split the party in two, which is music to a lot of people's ears. Of course that maniac or head of the DNC should be given some credit for starting it all.
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
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Yes, this was great news
We finally got the double agent from CT out of the Democratic party. Anybody who kisses Bush is a traitor.
Posted by SteveBarry687 (170 comments )
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wow! hurray CNET
I can't beeieve there are so many level headed conservatives on CNET! Do you know that they themselves are not that way!
Posted by adamHR (3 comments )
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Maybe one win for the cut-and-run kooks
CutAndMoveOn.org has been losing elections, even with their sugar daddy George Soros' money. Gore, Dean, Kerry - the political battlefield is littered with their defeated candidates.

Kooks can win primaries, but let's see what happens when the rest of us vote.
Posted by fafafooey (171 comments )
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Cut and Run as Starting World War III
So, the history books will read that the Germans started world wars I and II and the United States started III.

We'll see what happens when the rest of the country votes.
Posted by SteveBarry687 (170 comments )
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Right on!
And I really like the way those Weinstein brothers backed a pack of losers too in the last major election. Those suckers lost millions! I hope they are duped once again by the left wing extremists.
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
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kooks
right on.. these guys are really far left.. I wonder if they would like to take in some Southern lebanese exchange students.. its quite busy in their country now and they have trouble concentrating on their learning..better yet maybe they would like to find the Egyptian students gone missing.. maybe they're just visiting Mystic Ct and all the other tourist sites.. lets not care about the danger till they blow us up.. Ignorance is bliss!
BTW KOSsacks are not new.. we have had cossacks before.. they are really peaceful people..the parallels are chilling..The hate that they have for Joe Lieberman is seething and quite indicative of their "love and tolerance"(check Daily Kos) for others. I shudder what would be if they or their kind ever get to office..
Posted by adamHR (3 comments )
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Just Wait
Talk to us in November. Been reading polls lately?
Posted by swift2--2008 (197 comments )
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hell yes... a win for the kooks, not the net
i agree... i think this is a great thing for politics... i would like to see lieberman win for the non partisan party.
Posted by djpaisley (80 comments )
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hell yes... a win for the kooks, not the net
i agree... i think this is a great thing for politics... i would like to see lieberman win for the non partisan party.
Posted by djpaisley (80 comments )
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Lamont is just a Rebublican and doesn't know it!!!
I was born and raised in CT and Greenwich is not really part of CT any longer. For that matter all of Fairfield county caters more to NY than CT.
So Ned is a Multimillionaire, Living in Greenwich, owns a Cable Company, Do the math --- He's not here for the working man, He's here for the Rich cronies.
Lieberman will run and win as an independent. When you get down to the issues, what can Ned Lamont say on anything critical to the State of Connecticut.
Lets see what happens when the republicans add someone to the pool.
Or better yet, lets let NY have Greenwich and Ned and Hillary can fight it out..... Connecticut will win again.
Posted by kakphoto (18 comments )
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Odd, what's with the Marxism-Leninism?
For years, the Republican Party has been on us for "class
warfare," when what they mean is, we've been fighting for the
guy at the bottom, and not the guy on top, as they have. Now
comes the Republican/Lieberman supporter/whatever, who
criticizes Lamont for... being a rich guy! Where did you get the
idea that BEING rich is a crime, according to the Democrats? You
ever heard of FDR? He was from a wealthy family, you know? So
what? It's not important. Lamont spent way less than Lieberman
did, and a lot of that money was in small donations.

Oh, wait. Next, you'll say that the guy who got the most votes is
"the elitist."
Posted by swift2--2008 (197 comments )
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At least you recognize that republicans are only for rich folks
The 1%.
Posted by SteveBarry687 (170 comments )
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Dude open your eyes - the Democrats are the new party of the rich
Let's look at the Democrat supporters:

Billionaire George Soros - DEMOCRAT
Billionaire Warren Buffet - DEMOCRAT
Billionaire Bill Gates - DEMOCRAT
Billionaire Peter Lewis - DEMOCRAT

Now let's add in Ted Kennedy (inherited daddy's rum running money), Theresa Heinz, Ted Turner, Jon Corzine, Martha Stewart, Barbara Streisand, Steven Speilberg, Steven Bing, and on and on.

All limousine liberals.

Of the top 25 contributors to 527 organizations in 2004, *24* were Democrats!

DemocRats - the party of the rich.
Posted by fafafooey (171 comments )
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Some grist for analysis
As a registered Democrat from Connecticut with full net access who has been immersed in this primary let me fill in how some of this looked from the ground level so that those of you who are interested can understand the how net influence played out in this.

First, let me point out that my first point of contact with politics on the net came back in early 2003 when Moveon.org sent me an email out of the blue about petitioning against Bushes' anticipated war in Iraq. Normally I would have deleted such an email, but at that moment like most rank and file Democrats I was in despair about what I saw about to happen and about the persistent passivity of the Party that had been going on Since Bill Clinton's time. So I let their emails come, and immediately developed a trust for their style and instinct. They were savvy and direct and said exactly what I would say, not all the convoluted trickery of the Clintonites. Over the course of the following 3 years I paid attention to their calls for petition signatures and noted their organized gatherings. I did not trust the Democratic National Committee, but I trusted Moveon.org, so they really focused my efforts throughout the election period.

In the Spring of this year Moveon held a referendum for its members asking us whether we would support Lieberman or Lamont; when the members overwhelmingly chose to go with Lamont, Moveon directed its efforts to announcing gatherings, appearances, and fundraising efforts for Lamont. Democracy was working the way one would hope; this unstructured free association of Connecticut Democrats had a coordinating body to focus our concrete efforts where they needed to go. It turns out that there are 50,000 subscribers to the Moveon.org email in Connecticut, so they were arguably the force behind Ned's ability to get delegates at the State nominating convention that launched him into viability.

As this Moveon.org activity was going on among us middle-aged registered voters, the national media began making a lot of noise about the influence of blogs and websites that most Moveon.org members were not much aware of: the right-wing talking heads at Fox and MSNBC began to claim that the "Daily KOS" was giving marching orders to an army of left-wingers who were tilting the party left, etc. Now I like Marcos Moulitsos in the few times I've seen him on tv, but one of the facts about the "blogosphere" is that it's very fragmented; to this day I've not even logged in to that site once, let alone taken marching orders from it. I read Eric Alterman every day but have only logged in to Salon once; and so it goes. So far as I can tell the influence of the blogs had been in generating a lot of young volunteers who started showing up in some of the campaign headquarters Ned opened up in Connecticut, and that's a good thing; but Connecticut Democrats were getting our "marching orders" from Moveon.org. The role of that organization was more concrete and pivotal in making the campaign, while the role of the blogs was, as Marcos said this week, to "make buzz". When the history of the primary phase of this election is written, the blogs became important after Moveon.org laid the organizing groundwork.

Phase 2 of this campaign, running in front of Connecticut's citizens, is unlikely to be such a smashing success for the net elements. The bulk of the citizenry are still detached from the net and will still have to be extracted house by house and mall by mall and hand to hand. Fundraising is not an issue in this race, with Ned having unlimited resources, but any other candidate would have to make use of the net elements to do that. So we'll see whether the net elements have any unexpected influence on the traditional campaign now that they've taken the primary...
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
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Kos not "official"
He is not an official part of the campaign hierarchy. The Lamont
campaign, though innovative and *ahem* successful in its
appeal to and use of the Internet -- he had a Net consultant who
knew how to run a website, for one thing, while Joe switched to
GoDaddy on election day -- the bloggers are not campaign
workers. Did Rove pay LGF and the bloggers who did their best
to trash Kerry? Did they take orders from him? I presume they
were just of one mind about most things. Right?

I don't know where you people have been, but these were not
leftists. These are mainstream people, expressing themselves
using the Internet, which outflanks the Rep and Dem
establishments which depend on media buys and saturating
bombing runs of crappy and non-informative commercials. This
is better way of getting the message out. Information Age,
anybody?

Lamont is a centrist. Lieberman went too far to the right, getting
endorsements from Hannity, Coulter et al. On the same night
that Lamont won, voters in Georgia kicked out Cynthia McKinney
-- a leftist -- for a centrist. Meanwhile, in Michigan, the
Republican Club for Growth kicked out a centrist Republican who
dissented on stem cells and other causes so dear to the
wingnuts' hearts. Lincoln Chaffee may be drummed out of the
party for dissenting from the wingnut line. So who's the
extremist?

All of Lamont's positions, according to the polls, are supported
by a majority of the American people.
Posted by swift2--2008 (197 comments )
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Lamont can't be a centrist
... and win in Connecticut.

Rather, his mantra is: Bash Bush, pull out of Iraq, Halliburton, Halliburton, Halliburton ...


... or it better be by election day.

Let's face it, the Dems have two goals: Recapture the Senate or the House, and hate Bush for two years.
Posted by Too Old For IT (351 comments )
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The old story
The old story, you ask for what you get , and get what you ask for!

Both parties currently, have lost the plot totally, and appear more interested in creating an absolute repressive police state with minimal political freedoms, all in the name of protecting us from the nameless terrorist, whilst simultaneously bankrupting the nation to third world standards with unsustainable government debt levels to pay for very short term gains indeed!

Oh well, since Lieberman, like many in the current existing majority of elected representatives in both houses of Congress facing mid term elections, took their fingers off the pulse, to pander the special interest of a vain greedy minority, only time will tell as to whether the wishes of the voters will be granted!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
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False Analysis
The article suggests a new medium (the internet) as having a
profound effect on the outcome, but the medium is irrelevant.
Speaking politically for a moment, Lieberman lost favor of his
party, namely the ones that get out and vote in the primaries. If
twice as many had shown up to vote in a less debated election, I
think we'd have something to talk about, but as it is, it was just
another democratic primary shifting the party out of center.
Come election time, Lamont or whatever the challenger's name
is will be forced back to center otherwise he'll end up with
nothing more in the total vote count than those who got off their
duffs and voted in the primary. I know CNet makes it's dough off
of reporting on technology, but this is a stretch because it's just
politics as usual. Story is a no-story I'm afraid.
Posted by geotopia (48 comments )
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Hijacking the (D) w/ kooks = a (R) netroots victory
Yeah, I'd say its a win.

Those netroots are a major win for the Republican party. Because they have imposed a Stalinist type purge on the Democrats, now they Dems will be easily crushed by either the Independents (Lieberman) or the Conservatives (Republicans).

I love my net roots... MMMMMMMM
Posted by gerhard_schroeder (311 comments )
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A victory for America
The country is waking up to the disastrous foreign policy thrust
upon the world by the neo-con, right wing fringe. The republicans
have decimated the country over the past 6 years. Lieberman's loss
is just the beginning, and rightfully so. Americans are no longer
going to tolerate self defeating policies of endless war and fear.
Posted by zmonster (272 comments )
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waking up to gooffy liberals
america would pic nuts associated with george soroz who want legalized drugs
Posted by newcreation (118 comments )
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To all those "stay the course" backers
It's easy sit back in you warm and cozy homes here while the son, daughters, fathers, and mothers are under threat of death every day in Iraq and Afganastan. While you're counting your money and how much profit you can make with war contracts, it's easy isn't.

For sure if there is another attack here at home, it won't be because we "cut and ran" but because that agency that supposed to be "Homeland defense" didn't do it job. The dept. is just another pork barrel for republicans to get money by supplying the dept. with so called needed office amenities. Your being hood winked into believing that they can protect us against terrorest. between the budget for homeland defence and the civil war in Iraq, it's costing us our schools, highways, and social programs billions and let's not forget the wounded who come home with less of their bodies than when they went to fight them over there. All the families who suffer with the deaths and wounded of our armed forces because a wet nosed president had these great bombs and jets and wanted to see how they worked. He sits in his office and just like those video games, he pushes a button and someone dies.
Cut and Run, and save our young from harm.
Posted by wtortorici (102 comments )
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To many variable here to extract blog power, yet
All that is clearly certain is that the Democrat party is getting ready for a major upheaval. Then again, so are the Republicans. About the only thing that is truely clear is that both party's core bases are radicalizing. The question becomes, which radicalized party will the average American vote for?

What the election may indicate, in the long run, depends heavily on who the Republicans run, how they interact with Lieberman's independent candidacy, and what the final percentages are.

Do recall, Clinton won his first term with a minority, primarily because the conservative vote split fairly evenly between Bush and Peroit, and was followed by the Republican takeover of congress.

My personal opinion, is if Lamont loses the CT race to Lieberman, the Democrat party is going to fisure into its moderate and extreme elements, with its radical side dieing out of politics. Johnson's significant victory over McKinney would seem to be such and indicator.

By the same token, I see similar indicators on the Republican side, though Republicans are presenting a more unified front, seeing the threat of a Democrat victory as being more important right now.

If the Democrats do split, however, I certainly see the moderate and radical elements of the Republican party separating as well, with a likely merger of the more conservative Democrats and the more liberal Republicans into a new opposition party.

Frankly, I think that's probably the best possibility in the long run. Maybe we could get past the "he/she's an "X" and therefor is evil/incompetent/corrupt/eats babies" we've gotten ourselves into.

One can dream.
Posted by H Voyager (38 comments )
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A Win for 'Netroots'? No Way.
Lieberman's loss has nothing to do with "tech-savvy" campaigning by the opponent. Plain and simple: Lieberman is boring, his voice sounds like the actor who played the father on the TV series "Alf", and he ran a terrible campaign. You can't get any worse that.
Posted by computerbob (1 comment )
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Political Parties
Much of the country have yet to realize the simple truth.

The dems and republicans are opposite sides of the same coin.

If you think we are living in a 2 party state, you are only kidding yourself. They exist for one reason, to divide the country to keep it under control. Conservatives vs Liberals, Pro-life vs Pro-choice, ect. No other reason. Both parties have the exact same financial backers, they argue in public and then agree to destroy our once great nation in private.

Contrary to popular belief the media is not controlled by liberals. Its owners have to look left to see Hitler.Why do you think the mainstream press has given Bush a free ride while he systematically destroys our security, freedom, morals, and credibility? Meanwhile the alleged libral Clinton was hammered for lying about having sex.

Yeah, that is balanced.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
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Ha!
Gotta love conspiracy theorists and their "Iron Law of Oligarchy" banter.
Posted by SonicV4 (37 comments )
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ROVE IS A GENIUS!!!
He gets that emotional associations trump words.

Democrats = pansies

Republicans = fighters


Facts = irrelevant

And always make your opponents strength their liability. Classic
Rove. The Lieberman talking points are an excellent example.
Fvcking mastermind. (Or at least he gets marketing when others
don't.)

Hey, exactly that worked in the last 3 elections!

Why not do it again?
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
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