- Not even his own staff would call Democratic congressional candidate Ben Chandler a nethead.
“He uses the Internet almost exclusively for fantasy baseball,” said campaign spokesman Jason Sauer, who added that he wasn’t sure whether, until recently, Chandler even knew what a blog was.
But that was before Chandler’s campaign turned a $2,000 investment in blog advertising into over $80,000 in donations in only two weeks. Chandler — who won a seat in the House of Representatives Tuesday evening — definitely knows what a blog is now, Sauer said. “It’s that thing that brings in money.”
Political blog advertising represents the latest twist on the Internet fund-raising strategy pioneered by the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, which raised millions of grass-roots dollars from its Blog for America website. Chandler’s campaign is the first of several that have started advertising on political blogs as a cost-effective way to reach a national audience.
….Tuesday’s special election in Kentucky’s sixth district marked the end of an intense two-month campaign that pitted Chandler against Republican state Sen. Alice Kerr for the House seat vacated by Ernie Fletcher, now governor of Kentucky.
Chandler, who served two terms in Kentucky as state auditor and one as attorney general, enjoyed the advantage of name recognition and held a sizable lead in January polls. But Kerr steadily closed the gap, raising over $1 million between mid-November and the end of January.
By the first week of February, polls showed the margin between the candidates narrowing fast. With Chandler trailing Kerr’s fund-raising by hundreds of thousands of dollars, Chandler campaign manager Mark Nickolas decided to reach out to a new group of potential contributors: readers of political blogs.
Nickolas knew that congressional races do not traditionally attract grass-roots donations from outside the district. But he reasoned that many of the activists and election junkies who read political blogs would be interested in helping a Southern Democrat like Chandler recapture a seat in the House.
Nickolas bought ads on 11 mostly left-leaning blogs, including Daily Kos, Political Wire and Eschaton, planning to make up the money out of his own salary if the ads didn’t pay for themselves.
He needn’t have worried. By the end of the day, the campaign had made back its money and then some.
….So far, the campaigns advertising on blogs are exclusively Democratic. Henry Copeland, founder of Blogads, which handled Chandler’s ad campaign, theorized that the difference had to do with Dean’s online fund-raising success.
“Dean’s Internet success undoubtedly got Democrats more focused on blogs and the Internet. Competition breeds innovation, and the primary season has forced Democrats to get aggressive faster,” he said.
Nickolas predicted that as more candidates pile into blog space, prices will inevitably go up. He estimated that the advertising he bought in February would sell in the fall for five to ten times what he paid for it.
“I think you’ll see market forces will take over, and blogs will start charging real money for this advertising,” he said.
Very interesting. I understand the target audience for that campaign, but for larger general elections, I would think a political spectrum-wide site, like say this one, would make a lot of sense as well.