Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Interesting elections yesterday. So what happened?

It seems that Jon Tester (see also here has won the Democratic nomination for Senator in Montana, to run against he Abramoff-damaged Republican incumbant Senator Conrad Burns. This is June. In January of this year, Tester had 17% name recognition in Montana and the Democratic leadership in Washington was strongly behind his Democratic oppontent John Morrison. Among other things, Tester plugged into the netroots for support. Morrison didn't.

According to Chris Bowers, Democrat Francine Busby lost the race in California District 50 to replace the currently jailed Duke Cunningham by 4.5%. She polled some 17% higher than the number of Democrats actually registered in the carefully gerrymandered Republican district and it cost the Republican National Committee some $10 million to pull out the win. Except that unfortunately a Republican will still represent that district, that was a loss for the Republicans. Again, Francine Busby got the advantage of support from the netroots among other things.

Then there is the Connecticut democratic Primary for Senator where three term Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman is finding reelection difficult because of Ned Lamont. The media writes rather simplisticly about Lamont running on a platform to get out of Iraq while Lieberman supports Bush and his Iraq war decisions unreservedly. This is a lot of it, but Lieberman is also the Democrat that FOX News and Bush love to quote when they are looking for bipartisan support for another harebrained conservative idea.

What's really interesting is how Lieberman is responding to the challenge by Lamont. Pachacutec at Huffington Post describes what is happening. A lot of Progressive Democrats are unhappy with Lieberman's conservative actions and statements, so they are watching his campaign closely and publishing their observations on blogs. Some national progressive blogs have picked up on it, and the result is a lot of support for Lamont. Lieberman, who has never faced a strong challenge for reelection, is using the old media to put out statements that would have worked to turn public opinion towards him in 2000, but as the blogs deconstruct them and compare them to the record (I love hypertext!) are shown to be highly misleading.

Here is an example:
"Caught by surprise in a bunker by the people-powered media blob, the Lieberman camp responds in the only way it knows how: through deceptive advertisements placed in traditional media, simultaneously parading establishment endorsements that similarly deceive and fall flat. In one example, Hillary Clinton wrote a letter in support of Lieberman's campaign claiming he opposed the anti-middle class privatization of social-security, when in fact the opposite is true. The people aren't buying it: for the first time in the modern campaign era, a race of national importance is operating completely outside the traditional media-pundit filter, all to the benefit of Connecticut's own Ned Lamont."
Republican Lincoln Chaffee running for reelection in the Democratic state of Rhode Island is finding the same set of problems.

There is a lot of blather being published in the older media forms as they try to come to grips with the internet media. As Chris Bowers points out, they used to have something of a gate-keeper role in American politics. There were three TV networks, the New York Times and Washington Post, and Newsweek and Time. It wasn't news until one of them published or broadcast it. This has changed radically within less than half a decade. Chris makes the point that the media is saying that there is a split among Democrats on what to do about the Iraq war. But the polls show that 80% of Democrats are ready to get out of Iraq. Where is the split?

It's in Washington D.C. The Democratic leadership there is informed by the older media and has yet to recognize the internet. The only split seems to be between the majority of Democrats and those who purport to be their leaders but are simply out of touch.

The results from yesterday are going to force a few of those "leaders" to realize something is happening that they aren't in touch with. The ones who won't recognize that and adapt run the strong chance of being soon replaced.

I suspect that November 2006 is going to be a watershed election because the Democratic Party is going to shift back into being controlled by the mass of the Democrats. This will be because of the internet. Republicans can't do this. They use the internet to distribute the decisions made by the leadership, and don't allow participation by the followers.

It's going to be a really interesting year.

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