36_Clay Johnson Ben Self Jascha Franklin-Hodge and Joe Rospars

Online Campaigning

Politics is about to get even more local. In the 2008 elections, candidates will use global-positioning systems and mapping technology to target voters in key states, block by block. They’ll send SMS messages urging supporters to donate money. And they’ll buy Google key words to find constituents. You’ll even have “Governor Tom Vilsack blogging from his BlackBerry while running across a field in Iowa,” says Clay Johnson, cofounder of Blue State Digital, a consultancy that helps incorporate Web technology into lefty campaign strategies. Blue State was started in 2004 by Johnson, Joe Rospars, Jascha Franklin-Hodge, and Ben Self, veterans of the groundbreaking Internet component of Howard Dean’s disintegrating Oval Office run. “Wal-Mart has a record of every transaction of every customer,” says Johnson. That’s “something that all political organizations are working on. Knowing who’s a Democrat and where they are and integrating mapping technology so you can give a precinct captain a list of where to walk around a neighborhood and whose door to knock on–that’s the future.” For both parties, we’re guessing.

Through the work of Johnson, Self, Franklin-Hodge, and Rospars, old-fashioned pavement-pounding, get-out-the-vote efforts will become much more effective. Using the Internet and GPS devices (to keep door knockers from getting lost), it’s rocket science meets Rock the Vote.