Getting Out The Vote In Massachusetts Senate Race: One Side Has An App For That

January 19, 2010 6:19 am

Scott Brown has taken a page from the Barack Obama playbook, using his Web site as the hub for a get-out-the-vote operation.

Martha Coakley has farmed out most voter efforts to the Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America, and her Web site is still prominently asking people for donations even though it’s election day.

Coakley (D) and Brown (R) are going after last-minute voters but the Brown campaign’s effort is more aggressive and prominent.

Voters checking in on Brown’s Web site today can find their polling location and are asked to make calls to help the Republican win the special election for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. They can download a Blackberry application to reach out to their neighbors and get text messages asking them to take the day off work to get out the vote.

Visitors to Coakley’s site are asked to “contribute,” and people who sign up for her mailing list are taken to a donation page. There are links for supporters to make calls from home – efforts being fielded by the Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America.Brown has taken the smartest elements of Obama’s presidential campaign Web site, and is using technology in a similar fashion.

Reporters comparing their social networking have found Brown’s presence much stronger on Twitter and Facebook, but a more important metric is how the get-out-the-vote operation is being run. Brown’s campaign has targeted contact to voters to make sure they are hitting the polls.

The Republican also has dominated in online advertising and purchased banner ads on the Boston Globe’s Web site.

The new PDA application Brown launched Monday tied to his “voter bomb” effort puts a walk list in the palm of supporters’ hands.

The text message effort mimics the Obama effort last fall. Here’s Brown’s latest: “Are you taking the day off of work tomorrow to help Scott Brown win? Sign up here to get a walk list on your smart phone:”

The Coakley text message program also is run by the DNC and voters can get their polling place. The number is the same one Barack Obama used to announce Joe Biden as his choice for vice president.

TPMDC texted the Coakley campaign address as a test and received an error message that the polling place locator program couldn’t identify the location.

We asked Matthew Barton, a North Carolina interactive designer, to evaluate the two sites. He said both pay homage to the Obama design style and noted the “contribute” button is the strongest visual element on Coakley’s site.

The Coakley “today” page also asks for donations, Brown’s does not.

Instead of having a direct link, Coakley has an extra step for voters to find their polling location on her site, and the font size is incredibly small for such a key element, Barton said.

As we have reported, the Organizing for America effort is not small potatoes, and Democrats are making calls from all over the country to help Coakley. The calls have been more than 100,000 and volunteers are saying they have made a difference.

In most cases the calls are fielded through the DNC and come up with a DC area code on caller ID. But the Democrats aren’t alone in calling from outside the state, and several readers have told us that they live in Vermont but are getting calls from the Brown campaign.

Late Update: A Democratic official tells us that OFA has made more than 1.2 million calls so far into Massachusetts and they are on pace to top 2 million calls by the end of the night.

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