I’ve been following Garth Turner on the entire Digital Democracy initiative from the beginning.
He’s the only MP that has a real blog, and, he was the first MP in Canada, to my knowledge, to have been booted out of a political party for maintaining a blog. (Talk about fighting the last war.)
The state of Political Web Analytics is extremely young. It largely began with the emergence of forums and usegroups, and basic volumetric figures, and has since exploded with the blogosphere. I frequently find Google Analytics tags on several blogs – so I can only assume that somebody out there is using those analytics. Whether or not there’s much optimization going on is another story.
What’s possibly the most exciting aspect is how Obama built on the Dean legacy of 2004. No, I’m not talking about the scream, I’m talking about how Dean was really the first major candidate to fully leverage the power of the online channel.
Garth Turner, to my knowledge, is the only Federal Canadian politician to start leveraging the channel.
The most recent example? Garth called on a large number of the regular posters and trolls on his weblog to come out and meet Dion in a private session before a huge townhall in Halton. Garth used the Internet and his mailing list he gathered from his comment section, to advertise the event.
The result? A massive mob of diverse Canadians who came out to see Dion and Garth.
I believe that Digital Democracy is coming to Canada, and I somehow lament that there are not more political scientists with experience in the field of web analytics.
The web analytics could really inform some of the causal and influential variables about how Garth’s blog grew. The financial analytics, if Garth was to ever to volunteer them in 10 years time, could unlock another deeper level of insight. Canada traditionally lags the United States in a few respects – and here it is…the actual cradle of real Canadian Digital Democracy.
The possibilities for the use of web analytics in the optimization of political campaigns, I can foresee, as becoming a major component of political life in Canada. Just as you have polling firms that do political polls in their spare time (and it’s heavily commoditized), there will eventually be an intense demand for web analytics to optimize political campaigns.
Are we there yet?
The Conservative Party of Canada has imported a large amount of Republican database RFM segmentation technology. We see this in part with the abuse of “10 percenters” – the direct mailing spam that the Canadian taxpayer pays for. It all goes into a database. It was all pioneered down south.
The Liberal Party of Canada and the Democratic Party of the United States are catching up though, and, are more acutely aware of the social aspect. Web 2.0 is actually in the core DNA of Gen X and Gen Y, and the LPC definitely has an inside track if they can figure out how to use, measure, and optimize those channels. In fact, these technologies could be absolutely key in getting out the vote.
In sum, I’m calling it out now.
It’s trend, it’s happening. We’re in very, very early days, still.
But it’s exciting.