“If you’re a Democrat around here, everyone hates you,” says farmer Joel Young, 25, from Avery county in North Carolina. The county hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Carter in 1976. But somehow, the Obama campaign has a robust volunteer operation in Avery and North Carolina is in play. How’d they do it? The Internet, of course. The Wall Street Journal explains:
National campaigns have rarely bothered with places like Avery, put off by small populations, low fund-raising potential and a perception of entrenched support for one party. The Internet is making it worth trying by connecting powerful databases of detailed information on millions of voters with trained teams of local volunteers.
“Ironically, it took the Internet to get us back to the old-fashioned way of doing politics,” says Mark Sullivan, the founder of a start-up called Voter Activation Network Inc., or VAN, which runs the Web-based database for the Democratic National Committee from a warehouse in Somerville, Mass.