Use Social Network Strategy to Win; Huckabee Did
Valdis Krebs and other social network analysts attribute the outcome of the Iowa Republican presidential caucus to use of social networks to develop support for winner Mike Huckabee, in contrast to greater reliance on conventional campaign techniques by his nearest competitor, Mitt Romney:
The common wisdom in politics is that money wins -- s/he with the biggest machine marches on. Since Huckabee couldn't outspend his rivals he had to out-think them. Huckabee chose to network his way to success. […]
He found local social networks of conservative Christians, gun owners, home schoolers and tax reformers. It was in these networks that Huckabee's message caught fire and spread to other networks that intersected with these. Soon Huckabee had large clusters of interconnected supporters, all reinforcing one another -- friends talking to friends.
Meanwhile, Romney and the others where following common campaign wisdom and setting up phone banks, canvasing neighborhoods and spending money in the mass media -- strangers talking to strangers.
Why does this work so well? Consider the social aspects of voting:
Messages to people alone on the phone, alone in the car [radio], alone on the couch [TV], alone with the newspaper, alone with the computer, don't STICK the same way messages conveyed in a group of trusted others. Alone, we hear the message, forget the message, make the promise, forget the promise. In a group, we hear the message, discuss the message, internalize the meassge, make the promise to the group, keep the promise to the group.
The close ties between the Republican Party and strong social-networked groups such as evangelical mega-churches and the National Rifle Association – even Chambers of Commerce – have been used for years to develop support for conservative candidates.
Progressives who want their preferred candidates to win this year would do well to learn and act on this lesson—social networks work in politics. We can work our own networks to increase the likelihood of voting as well as influence people to vote for progressive candidates.
How can we do this? Think of the social networks you yourself are in—at work, in recreation, at your church or temple, with your neighbors, even online. These are all places in which you can talk politics and encourage your friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances to vote. We should use every possible network connection we have to mobilize the forces we'll need to turn our country around.