Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Army of Zealots

More on the article by Mark Walsh of MediaPost:
Fervent online support doesn't necessarily translate into votes, however. The campaign site of Internet favorite Ron Paul drew by far the largest share of traffic among 15 presidential candidates, at 37.9%. The next closest was Huckabee, with 16.4% as of December, according to Hitwise data cited by Borrell. Paul hasn't come close to winning any primaries.
There is a different between the supporter and the zealot. Certain campaigns and certain messages connect with both, either or neither. Zealots are rabid fans. They latch on, believe every drip of rhetoric, and rarely let go. Supporters, however, vote. Unless the zealot army generates supporters, the campaign goes nowhere. Howard Dean had the zealots in 2004. Ron Paul has the zealots this cycle. Obama had them early on, and has done a decent job employing them to generate actual supporters.

There is another layer to the numbers presented above. We must not just look at traffic; we must also look at behavior of those that do engage in the conversation. How does a campaign employ the army of zealots to generate supporters? Are potential supporters turned off or engaged by the zealot conversation?

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