New Tools

The Kids Are Not Us - Thoughts on the Republican YouTube/CNN debate

Many of you may have digested the basics of what happened at the YouTube/CNN debate of the Republicans presidential candidates last night in St. Pete, Florida. If not, check out the New York Times.

But I was there and had a different lens applied to it. I was one of the few people attending from the progressive side, as a guest of Google and YouTube, and I was watching it to see how the new format worked or did not work.

The gist of what I think was reflected in a San Francisco Chronicle story that I was quoted in and that I helped the reporter with. The short answer is that I think the hybrid version of new media (user-generated video) questions selected by old media journalists (CNN) did not work as well as in the first such debate with the Democrats in the summer. It seemed like the CNN filters were heavy-handed, looking to spark fights (like with immigration) rather than reflect the range of issues of concern to Americans (and the 5000 people who submitted questions.) How could there be no interest in health care, climate change, and new energy issues?

Another striking thing was how all the video submissions, with one or two exceptions, came from Millennials, those under age 30. And almost everyone in the audience was much older. In fact, before the show began, CNN host Anderson Cooper asked for questions on the format from the audience. One young guy from the balcony asked why so few tickets had been given to young people. Cooper shot back – the Republican Party gave out the tickets, not us. It’s another sign that the Republicans are having a hard time connecting with this massive generation of young people, as well as coming to terms with the new demands of the new online media.

I was also struck by how many times Hillary Clinton came up in the debate, and yet not once did Obama’s name come up. (I think Edwards and Kucinich each came up once). It seems the Republicans are on auto-pilot in accepting the old conventional wisdom that Hillary is going to be the nominee. They have completely missed the new dynamics of a race that is far from won.

Obama is getting new boosts from all kinds of quarters, including the powerful tech community who he wowed with his recent tech and innovation proposals laid out at Google. But that is another post of another time…

For now it is worth noting that almost every Republican candidate and most in the crowd expect Hillary will be the nominee and they clearly relish the thought.

Peter Leyden
Director of The New Politics Institute

The Republicans Face the Bottom-Up via YouTube

I will be in St. Petersburg, Florida, Wednesday night for the second YouTube/CNN debates – this time with the Republican presidential candidates fielding the questions sent via web video from the American public. I am very curious about how their slate will handle the questions posed to them.

As you recall, the Republicans initially balked at playing ball in this more wide-open media environment. But after the Dems did it this summer, and their more youthful  supporters harangued them to get with it, they decided to try it out. We’ll see how they will manage, and how the CNN journalists who ultimately screen the questions will treat them as well.

For those who are just tuning in, you can get an overview of the debate in the New York Times blog, complete with a few links, or plunge right into the fray of the more than 5000 entries at the YouTube website. I will be in the spin room after the debate and will report back to this blog by the next morning. Check it out.

Peter Leyden  
Director of The New Politics Institute

NPI Final New Tools Spotlight: Leverage Social Networks

 We end the New Politics Institute’s Fall New Tools Campaign by releasing a new memo by the Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook on one of the least understood but most intriguing of the new tools: social networking technologies.

The memo “Five Main Ways to Use Social Networking in Politics” lays out how the booming social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace can be used to do many of the old-fashioned fundamentals of politics: branding, voter registration, fundraising, volunteering and voter turnout.

Politics has always been about “social networking,” or getting people to organize their friends and family to support a cause or a candidate. These new social technology tools just supercharge an individual’s ability to extend his or her reach. And so progressive organizations need to understand how these new approaches can make good old politicking so much more efficient and productive.

Chris Kelly, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer and Head of Global Public Policy, wrote this terrific guide that can be used by those just getting started or those looking for more nuanced ways to use these powerful new tools. You can read the memo off the NPI website or download a PDF file for printing.

Kelly also gave a talk on the topic, along with three other top experts in the social networking field, at NPI’s final tools event in Washington DC on Wednesday. Next week, video of the entire event, and the individual talks, will be available off the NPI website.

Plus you can find similar memos and video of the other eight new tools that NPI has explored this fall. We encourage you to use this material, and spread links to it far and wide.


Peter Leyden


Video's continued migration from TV

The Times this am has one of their periodic stories about how new media is changing old ways.  This one focuses on one of the subjects we've been talking about a great deal over NPI - how video has been liberated from the distribution monopoly of broadcast TV.  It begins:

WHY are fewer viewers watching the new fall television series? Perhaps because they are too busy watching video online.

As broadband service becomes more available at home, the growing prevalence of video programming on the Internet is catching the attention of consumers — not to mention marketers and media companies.

“Video has been liberated” from the TV set, Beth Comstock, president for integrated media at NBC Universal, said last week at a panel at the Ad:Tech conference in New York.

“If you’re in the video business,” she added, referring to companies like her employer, the NBC Universal division of General Electric, “it’s exciting to see where it’s going..."

REMINDER: Today - NPI event on Social Networking

REMINDER: Today we are rounding out our 2007 New Tools Campaign with a lunch event devoted to social networking. Details are below:

Social Networking Tools
Wednesday November 14, 2007
12:00 - 2:00 PM (Lunch will be served)
Phoenix Park Hotel
520 North Capitol Street
Washington, DC
Dave O'Donnell - - or 202-384-1212

We will be bringing together four experts who know the technology and the best new strategies, and can clearly explain what works. They are:

Chris Kelly, Chief Privacy Officer, Facebook; John Hlinko, President and CEO, Grassroots Enterprise; Cheryl Contee, Vice President, Fleishman Hillard, San Francisco; Ben Rattray, Founder and CEO,

Interesting SMS campaign in California

As many of you know, we at NDN and the New Politics Institute are very interested in how people are using the new tools available to them in getting their message out. One of the tools we focus on, mobile media, is one that is catching on at every level. Take the campaign that It's OUR Healthcare! (IOH) recently conducted for example:

IOH launched a text messaging campaign to lobby the Governor on health care. They set up a giant screen displaying text messages (like the one below) that were sent in by supporters and passersbys alike on the grounds of the State Capitol for all to see.

Learn more about their SMS campaign at or on the IOH home page.

NPI Event Invite: Using Social Networking Tools

Social networking has always played a key role in impacting others, whether the impact is direct or indirect. The new wave of social networking websites and related tools just supercharge an individual’s ability to do this and make an impact.

Come to a lunch event where the New Politics Institute explores how to use this new social networking environment to enhance your personal or organizational goals. Social networking is one of the least mature of the new media tools transforming the non-profit and advocacy world, so figuring out effective strategies is more difficult than with tools that have been around longer like blogs. That’s why we are ending our fall roll-out of the 2007 New Tools Campaign of eight tools with a whole event devoted to social networking.

Social Networking Tools
Wednesday November 14, 2007
12:00 - 2:00 PM (Lunch will be served)
Phoenix Park Hotel
520 North Capitol Street
Washington, DC
Dave O'Donnell - - or 202-384-1212

We will be bringing together four experts who know the technology and the best new strategies, and can clearly explain what works. They are:

Chris Kelly, Chief Privacy Officer, Facebook, one of the big two social networking sites where an explosion of politicking is going on. Chris has written a memo for NPI that will be released that day on all the ways social networking is being used in politics.

John Hlinko, President and CEO, Grassroots Enterprise, a DC Communications firm helping politicos use new media and tactics.

Cheryl Contee, Vice President, Fleishman Hillard, San Francisco, has worked with progressive organizations like Amnesty International and Witness to get their messages out through social networks and engage their supporters.

Ben Rattray, Founder and CEO,, an up-and-coming smaller social networking website dedicated exclusively to serving social and political groups.

The event is open to the public and is free to all. Feel free to spread this to anyone in a progressive organization who might benefit. But make sure everyone RSVPs. Thanks.

Peter Leyden

How to Get 18-35 Year-Olds to Vote for Your Candidate

Jane Fleming Kleeb is the Executive Director of the Young Voter PAC which helps Democratic candidates and State Parties win with the 18-35 year-old vote through endorsements, on-the-ground support, training, strategy and money. She is a regular on Fox and MSNBC.

November 6th--Election Day 2007--is just around the corner for folks in many states. If you're reading this, you probably don't need to be convinced to target young people to vote in the upcoming elections. If you still need convincing, you might want to check out an article in the Politico that laid out some statistics.

The bottom line is if you target and talk to young people they will vote. Not rocket science, true enough. But with Election Day looming for many campaign staffers, volunteers and candidates, the Young Voter PAC thought we would offer up 5 activities that your campaign can do to get 18-35 year-olds to the polls. Don't fret if you have not started targeting young voters yet. You still have time since many young people, and yes even older voters, don't pay attention until right at the end.

Each idea below is linked to an organization that has done these activities many times and they should be looked to as a resource for more detailed information and sample materials. Don't reinvent the wheel, young voter groups like those below, are here as a resource.

  1. Go Trick or Voting. Get a bunch of volunteers and your candidate and head to neighborhood streets and community Halloween parties. Create signs saying "Don't Be Tricked By (insert other candidate's name), Vote (insert your candidate's name)" and have volunteers carry the signs. You can even make old-school sandwich boards for volunteers to wear. Get volunteers to dress up as famous Democrats or people that highlight progressive issues that the campaign has focused on during the election cycle (e.g. nurses and doctors to symbolize health care for all). Use this Halloween holiday as a creative time to reiterate your message, get some earned media and increase visibility.

  2. Create "Pledge to Vote" cards. Research (and common sense) tells us that if a young person "pledges" to vote they vote in higher numbers. Groups like YDA and the PIRGs have been using pledge cards for years and it works. Simply create the pledge to vote cards and arm your volunteers with clipboards. Create fun contest to have them compete with one another to get as many pledge cards in a few hours. Use the information on the pledge cards (make sure you get name, email, cell, address) to contact young voters before and on Election Day.

  3. Do a bar crawl. You can also choose to do a coffee house crawl, an elementary school crawl, a supermarket get the point. Any place where 18-35 year-olds hang out in your targeted areas is where you want to send the candidate and a group of energetic volunteers. Make sure you all wear campaign t-shirts and bring quarter-sheet sized information flyers about your candidate. When you go to places where young people hang out, they don't want to lug around a big pamphlet, so all you need to do is use some text from existing lit, give it a younger spin and create it so there are 4 flyers per page. Make sure the info sheets on your candidate have the date of the election, where someone can find their polling location and the number to call if they face problems voting. You can even bring "Pledge to Vote" cards to the bar crawl to make the crawl more effective since this way you will have contact information of the young voters you talked to for GOTV.

  4. Make a Voter Guide. We all get busy and can't keep up with the candidates and ballot initiatives that are happening on Election Day. Make it easy for young voters and create a voter guide that lists who/what to vote for and why. Leave the voter guides at places like coffee shops, college cafeterias and people's door steps. You can also hand them out as people are headed home from work and school in heavy trafficked areas like bus stops, metro centers, schools and supermarkets.

  5. Throw a Party at the Polls. Why not make polling locations fun. Bring food, music, signs, candidate lit, balloons, just about anything to make it fun and welcoming. We forget that voting can at times be intimidating. Placing volunteers at polls, especially those that are populated with a lot of young people, and making the atmosphere fun can increase the likelihood of a young voter stopping and going in to vote.

Above all else, keep young people on your GOTV call and walk list.

Resources get tight in the last days of an election, but the biggest mistake your campaign will make is to cut young people from your GOTV lists. Campaigns usually cut young voters because they have no vote history or they don't have the frequency of voting as older voters. Think in terms of a young voter-this may be their first eligible election so of course they have no vote history...yet! Go against the grain and leave young voters on your lists.

When trying to get young people to the polls, you must throw out the conventional wisdom of "young people don't vote." Young people don't vote at the same rate as older voters because they are not targeted. Talk to young voters and they will vote. Having other young people and the candidate do the asking and information giving is even better. Don't attempt to do all of the above in the last week of the election, but at least try one of the activities. Your volunteers and fellow staffers will get a refreshing break from other campaign activities and your candidate just might win because of the youth vote in the process.

Want More?

In addition to the organizations linked to above, check out the Pink Bunnies project by Forward Montana and creative ads by New Era Colorado. Both are innovative state-based organizations targeting young voters.

For links to research and case studies visit or go right to and download "Young Voter Mobilization Tactics I and II." All of the guides on Rock the Vote's site highlight best practices and research by respected young voter researchers and pollsters including Celinda Lake, David Nickerson, Donald Green and Alan Gerber.

NPI New Tools Spotlight: Target Your Marketing

Each week this fall the New Politics Institute has been sending out a memo on a new tool that progressives can use, but this week we send out a memo on a tool that arguably can be used in conjunction with all of them: databases. More specifically, this memo talks about how to use databases in microtargeting.

“An Introduction to Microtargeting in Politics” is a terrific overview of an exceptionally important tool that, frankly, conservatives have used earlier and much more effectively than most progressives. At more than 20 pages, this memo covers a lot of ground.

The memo explains why progressives should microtarget, and what microtargeting encompasses, along with looking at some case studies where progressives effectively used microtargeting in recent elections. The memo then lays out six steps that any organization can take towards developing microtargeting ability, and concludes with three strategic imperatives that the whole progressive movement might consider as marketing continues to get more and more targeted. As a bonus, the memo ends with a detailed list of resources and organizations that you can turn to for more information.

The coauthors of the memo have a wealth of experience in the database and microtargeting fields. Mark Steitz is a senior advisor at Catalist, which Laura Quinn founded and runs as CEO. Catalist is a voter data and data service company serving a wide range of progressive organizations. Steitz and Quinn also previously founded Copernicus Analytics, a data mining firm focused on providing improved donor and voter analytics to progressive political clients.

You can watch Quinn give a 10-minute overview talk on the subject at the 2007 New Tools Campaign kickoff this summer in Washington DC. And Steitz plans on posting to the New Politics Institute blog this week.

This memo is highly recommended for those working to modernize the way they run messaging and advocacy efforts. Please send this email to those who you think might benefit. Thanks.

Peter Leyden

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