I had a great day campaigning for the Democrats on Saturday. This was my first campaign, and I'm still a bit hoarse from talking all day. I was really impressed with the support that members of all parties had for the Democrats and Andrew Bartlett – I received positive comments and well wishes from nearly every campaigner on the day. I was interested to see how voters responded to the way I was campaigning, which was a bit more aggressive than any of the other parties' campaigners. I was afraid that being too aggressive would turn people off, but I think I was able to convince some people of the benefits of an independent Senate.
[ ed: I've removed inaccurate polling results ]
The message seems to be that there is a significant proportion of voters who haven't made up their mind on polling day, and that vocal campaigning works. This confirms to me that the big problem lies in the sheer difference in size of the major parties. The ALP campaigners were particularly out in force on Saturday, followed closely by a small army of coalition campaigners. This really puts minor parties at a big disadvantage – after being greatly disadvantaged for the whole campaign (plus the months of informal campaigning) by lack of funding for advertisements, the minor parties are also significantly underrepresented at the polling booths themselves.
I was really impressed by the youdecide2007 people this election – I heard a lot of positive feedback about the informative and unbiased way they presented the candidates. I think that these sorts of organisations are perfect for restoring some balance in a dichotomous two party system.
Along with grass-roots activists like GetUp!, I have some hope for minor party campaigning through technology use in the future. The internet provides a great platform for distribution, but eyeballs are still a scarce resource – intermediaries play such a big roll that it will be difficult to achieve much balance without groups like youdecide and GetUp!. These are the focal points we need to work on in the future.
I'm probably a little less impressed with the social networking sites – I don't really have a strong feeling about how much they influence voters, but I suspect that it's much less than we think. These sites, along with the video sharing websites, are great hosts for content, but less useful for disintermediarisation. I know that people will go look for the content if they know it's there, but I'm not sure to what extent they work as viral marketing tools.