Thursday, June 10, 2010

Political parties lose control as Internet aids challengers

The Internet has become the great political equalizer, giving life this year to insurgent candidates who would never have been able to break through the near-complete control that political parties used to exercise over their nominations.

From Web videos to Internet fundraising to recruiting volunteers, the Internet has helped insurgents knock off incumbents and party-picked candidates in House and Senate races from Alabama to Kentucky to Pennsylvania this midterm season. Tuesday night's results were expected to include still more surprises for party leaders.

"The D.C. establishment used to serve as the gatekeepers — they had the resources, which meant they had the ability to hand-select the candidate. The Internet has changed that forever," said David All, president of the David All Group and one of the pioneers on online politicking.

Mr. All founded Slatecard, a Republican-oriented fundraising site that helps small-dollar donors direct their contributions to candidates who share their stances. It follows on the success of ActBlue, a liberal site that says it has raised more than $134 million online from more than 1 million contributions since 2004.

Just as important, platforms such as YouTube have given long-shot candidates ways to circumvent political reporters reluctant to cover campaigns they don't believe have much chance of success.