WALTHAM, Mass. - A recent Bentley College
study, "The e-Campaign for Presidential Election
2004," provides the first systematic analysis of
who makes up Howard Dean's presidential campaign
grassroots supporters and what draws them to the
Meetup phenomenon. The study, conducted by
Professor of Government Christine B. Williams with
support from Jesse Gordon via the Dean volunteer
network, surveyed 600 participants from 15 states
who attended the October 2003 Meetup. A survey of
Wesley Clark campaign Meetups is anticipated for
According to Professor Williams, the Dean
campaign has figured out how to harness the
Internet in service of the two most important
goals in the run up to the primaries- raising
money and mobilizing their base.
"What's most interesting is Meetup's staying
power," says Williams. "These are satisfied,
The Bentley study's findings about the Meetup
- Demographically, they are mostly Caucasian,
middle aged, middle income professionals.
- They see themselves as strong Democrats,
either liberal or progressive in their ideology,
who voted for Al Gore in 2000.
- They had favorable views of Bill Bradley,
and liked John McCain and Ralph Nader more than
- They are politically active. Most vote in
every election. About half have donated money as
well as volunteer time to multiple candidates in
- They follow the news seven days a week in
every medium: newspapers, television, radio and
the Internet. Almost all report that they use
the Internet several times a day.
"Democratic party members think that Dean
supporters come from outside the party," says
Gordon. "Now we can show them that their
perception is incorrect. Dean supporters are good
Democrats who vote, donate, and volunteer. We're
not an isolated phenomenon."
Another key in mobilizing this constituency is
The Dean for
America web site. The study finds:
- The Dean site was how the largest number
found out about their first Meetup and how they
found out about this one.
- For almost one-third, this is their first
Meetup. About one-fifth have attended more than
- About half who attended a Meetup then became
involved in the Dean campaign, while the other
half was already involved and then decided to
attend a Meetup. Most are more involved in the
campaign and more supportive of Howard Dean as a
result of their Meetup experience.
A 62 year-old, married female from the Fort
Lauderdale, FL venue likes "getting the latest
information, resources, opportunities for
involvement, exchange of ideas." A 39 year-old
male attending the Indianapolis venue says simply,
"I am deciding which Democratic candidate to
support in the primary."
According to Bentley Associate Professor of
Marketing Bruce Weinberg, a consultant on the
study, Meetup thrives through a synergistic
combination of word of web and word of mouth.
"Just as eBay became 'the' place to go for
online product exchange, Meetup is becoming 'the'
online place to go for face-to-face social
exchange," he notes.
A 26 year-old, single male attending the New
York City venue comments that "Meetup gets
habitually non-political people (like me)
politically active." A 29 year-old, single woman
at the Denver Meetup finds it "interesting to see
other people supporting Dean - I feel like I'm
part of a group of people who care."
This arena is not new to Williams. She
coauthored the Bentley research study, "The
2000 e-Campaign for Senate." Published in the
Fall 2002 issue of the Journal of Political
Marketing, the study examined the marriage of
politics and marketing to computer technology.
Bentley is a business university. Focused on
education and research in business and related
professions, Bentley blends the breadth and
technological strength of a large university with
the values and student orientation of a small
college. An undergraduate education combines
business study with a strong foundation in the
arts and sciences. A broad array of Information
Age MBA, Master of Science, and certificate
programs at the McCallum Graduate School emphasize
the impact of technology on business practice.
Enrolling approximately 3,800 full-time
undergraduate, 490 adult part-time undergraduate,
and 1,300 graduate students, Bentley is located in
Waltham, Massachusetts, 10 miles west of Boston,
and online at http://www.bentley.edu/.