|Salon noted that Brown's media director, Rob Willington, said recently, "The running joke in the campaign is that when you go to [President Obama's] Web site, it says, 'Powered by Hope'...You could say, 'Powered by Google,' for the Brown campaign."
According to Salon, Brown didn't just purchase Google ads. Campaign workers also used Google spreadsheets and forms to collect information from volunteers and supporters, essentially using the search engine's products to create their own version of what President Obama's campaign team built for themselves during the 2008 election cycle.
Volunteers for the Brown campaign used software on iPhones and BlackBerries that pulled names from their voter target list and used a GPS location to create lists of which doors to knock on. Their phones had the text of a script for interactions with voters and a form to fill out responses, eliminating the need for paper get-out-the-vote walk sheets.
(Note also how efficient such a system is in organizing information from the campaign into one data bank.)
On Election Day, the Brown campaign used Google Voice to run hotlines where supporters could call in to report any allegations of fraud or voter intimidation.
The campaign even changed their ads in the last days before Election Day, so voters who were likely to support Coakley didn't see any additional reminders of the special election. In other words, potential voters who lived in heavily Democratic areas did not see ads from the Brown campaign reminding them of the special election date. Republican-leaning areas did get that message.
What is the lesson for us in Virginia? For starters, we need people in Richmond at the DPV who are absolutely comfortable with the latest Internet technology. Critical to being sure that is true would be to expect the state party's communications director and political director to be knowledgeable about the latest technological tools.
Also, those "consultants" who earn big bucks deciding where campaign advertising and other budgeted funds will be spent must understand how to use these tools. If they don't, they shouldn't be hired by Democratic campaigns.
Local committees also need somebody on board who understands how to use the Internet effectively. There should be a communications chair who is fluent in these new technology tools, if at all possible. That might be a great job for Young Democrats to undertake.
So, the Democratic Party of Virginia doesn't just need to have a clear statement of what it stands for. It may well need an extensive turnover in personnel. Indeed, whoever is in charge of hiring at the DPV better know how to find the expertise needed for the future. If not, resign and let someone who can do it fill the job.