Politics, Technology, WeTheCitizens

Giuliani Campaign Post-Mortem

Some time tonight, the social action network we at WeTheCitizens built for Rudy Giuliani will be replaced with a splash page thanking his supporters and endorsing John McCain.  This news should surprise nobody at this time, but this moment in the life of our company merits some reflection.  It marks not the end, but the beginning of a new era where our new customers, including one entering beta on Monday, can benefit from the maturation of our Wildfire platform during the Giuliani engagement.

We signed with the Giuliani campaign at a time when he topped the polls at 36+%.  It was a challenge we had been preparing for since November 2006 – after finishing our engagement with Georgia governor Sonny Perdue, we began building out features and scaling the platform to meet the needs of a national customer, a challenge that had many twists and turns, but ultimately resulted in us building out a rocking production cluster with a bunch of architecture enhancements to handle 170 million voters and orders of magnitude more supporters.

Even if they took a few hits in the media early-on for their lack of a social presence,  the Giuliani eCampaign staff deserves a great deal of credit for their understanding and usage of our platform as a social tool to advance their campaign.  Bill Skelly, Katie Harbath, Ted Jarrett, and many other staffers who I didn’t interact with directly deserve high praise, and I hope they are not out of work for long.  They pushed us to grow the platform, but in ways that forced us to be creative, to build a better product.  They were one of the best customers I have had the privilege of serving.  They made the most of each feature we delivered to them, and kept feeding the community with new content, new challenges, and new actions to help their candidate win.  They used our Wildfire product to continue growing their online supporter base, even as his offline support dwindled.  They understand the future of social advocacy.

But how to explain the precipitous decline in Rudy’s poll numbers?  Many blame the strategy of bypassing the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, in favor of focusing on Florida, where Rudy was most likely to win, and using that win to build momentum into Super Tuesday.  Let me first say that the primary process as it stands is senseless to me.  The inexplicable favored position of NH and IA builds “momentum” from states that are not representative of the nation as a whole.  The winner-takes-all-delegates approach in many primaries and general election disproportionately rewards a candidate who can get a plurality of votes.  That said, I’m doubtful that the strategy was the real issue.  I think that the idea of Rudy is more interesting than the reality of Rudy.  Read his book, read a quote, hear stories about Rudy, and you believe he is a great leader – I still do.  But somehow, every time I heard him speak, my confidence faltered, I thought less of his candidacy.  My theory on his decline is that 6 months out of the election, voters liked the idea of voting for Mayor Giuliani, but as the primaries neared and voters really began considering their choice, close examination of Rudy left them feeling like they needed to find another option.

With Giuliani out of the race, I can take a brief moment to declare my support for Congressman Ron Paul.  Being politically opinionated in a company with political customers can be a challenging position.  I can confidently say that we all gave our best professional effort to Mayor Giuliani regardless of our personal political affiliations.  I can dig into presidential politics a bit more soon.

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