POSTED BY: Anonymous ON March 13, 2008 - 11:33am
National Journal's Technology Daily
ONLINE ACTIVISTS TO GATHER AT PRESIDENTIAL CAUCUSES
Online organizers in New Jersey are bringing both the party and
representative democracy to the process of choosing a
presidential primary candidate Friday evening.
The event, one of a dozen organized as part of
NationalCaucus.com, begins with a happy hour, features speeches
from local New Jersey politicians representing each of the
Democratic candidates, and includes a discussion of issues
facing the nation as well as a straw poll.
John Bartlett, 35, who has a history of raising campaign money
and political participation from young New Jersey Democrats,
said he learned about the National Presidential Caucus during a
Google search and decided to join the call for a night of local
Bartlett said that after New Jersey moved its primary from June
to February, he was looking for a way to refocus attention on
the race after the state legislative elections last month. "This
is really about getting people excited and active," Bartlett
It's also an opportunity for the campaigns to meet and recruit
volunteers. "This is probably the single-biggest opportunity to
talk to the shoe-leather base of the party," Bartlett said.
Bartlett expects 200 people at the Iowa-style caucus at a
Roselle Park, N.J., restaurant ballroom. Those not braving the
expected sleet can follow it online. The Democratic blog
BlueJersey will be live-blogging the caucus.
Another local caucus event in Overland Park, Kan., had to be
moved from a local library to a community center after 80 people
signed up, 30 of them following media reports Thursday.
Steve Shute, 38, a former Republican campaign organizer and now
a systems administrator, said that he read about what he
describes as the "nationwide straw poll" in an online report and
decided to organize one.
After introductions of the candidates, he plans breakout
discussions so they can report back to the National Caucus the
top five issues that matter most to GOP voters there. The
results of a straw poll also will be reported. Shute offered
campaigns the opportunity to send representatives but said the
response from them and the local news media was not what he
But the lack of mainstream media interest may not be as critical
this campaign season. "The Internet has brought a whole
different dimension to campaigning," Shute said. "We're going to
YouTube it [their caucus tonight] and have MySpace groups
If the concept of organizing the meetings sounds a bit
reminiscent of the 2004 campaign, that may be because Myles
Weissleder, the spokesman and organizer of the National
Presidential Caucus, and his team are veterans of the Meetup
social network that was popular during the race.
Weissleder said that although he hoped to have even more
caucuses Friday, the scheduled events prove that the concept
works and more people do want to participate in their democracy
rather than be told who to support by media and the outcomes of
earlier presidential primaries.
"It's a victory for representative democracy," Weissleder said.
- By Heather Greenfield