At least a couple online articles have pointed to our ward's race as tech-savvy and possessing a significant internet presence, including the News-Star and the Capitol Fax Blog, which has called our ward's race "the most Internet-savvy battle in the city."
So I thought I would examine the issue:
Does the Internet a Campaign Make?
In my opinion, the internet can only be one facet of several in a campaign. The amount of people who use the internet is limited; the percentage of internet users who surf/read the blogs is even smaller. Internet campaigning also leans heavily toward younger voters, by simple virtue of the fact that the newer technology is more widely used by younger people (no slight against my older, wiser neighbors of course :) ).
At the same time, there is absolutely no substitute for in-person contact. The internet's strength is also its weakness. It is cheaper and faster to establish and maintain a presence on the internet, and two or three people posting can achieve wide readership. But it also feels cheaper and faster. It will take me only an hour or so to post something (relatively) thoughtful and substantive, and after that hour investment my site counter tells me several dozen people will read it (and growing!). By contrast, to reach that number of people either door-to-door or even by phone, it will take more than one session of phone banking or possibly the equivalent of several days of the candidate door-knocking. But when a resident/constituent sees a human take the time out of their day to come talk to him/her about a candidate, it has much more potential to make the resident feel important and his/her vote appreciated by the candidate. Of course, there are people who just hang up the phone or shut the door on a volunteer. But having door-knocked myself (not in this election, because work has me full-time and then some), I know that the vast majority of people are receptive to someone approaching them on behalf of a candidate.
That said, it is no secret that Brewer's campaign wields some internet heavy-hitters. But I have yet to have any personal contact from Brewer's campaign (nor Aftab's nor Stone's). The only people who have come knocking at my door have been Dolar folks (though it's possible I might have been at work - but the hours I spend at the office itself are pretty average, I just do a lot of work at home). At the same time, it now looks as if Dolar's site is the most consistently updated (I don't imagine Brewer's tech savvy people are happy about that). There was a long while that it wasn't getting updated, but it looks like her team is stepping up to the plate as the big day draws nearer. New stories and issues are getting put up almost every day - I can literally learn more about her platforms as we get closer to the election and I need to make a decision. Most importantly, the new updates are right on the front page, so I don't have to dig around clicking for them. In sharp contrast, Stone's site appears to be the most static - it's got a real "early web" feel to it. The only recent updates on Aftab's site appear to be in the form of a ticker tape along the top and left column of the website that announces new news. Last but not least, Brewer's site sports one recent update as far as I can tell -- the Early Voting post near the top. Other than that, the front page has two photos from early autumn 2006. Yes, I am only looking at the front page. Why? Because that's where a casual resident/voter will look.
In the defense of Brewer's team, their internet talent may very well be primarily in blogging and not in webpage design. But as I mentioned earlier, blogosphere surfers are an even smaller share of voters than voters who take a single internet address they've been given and check it out. If blogging is in fact the strongest suit of the Brewer team, it's very much "niche" and not the basket I would want to put all my internet campaign eggs into. Were I a casual repeat surfer, the only site I would keep revisiting is Dolar's.
Hence, my conclusion: internet advantage Dolar.