Clay Shirky has a brilliant analysis on Howard Dean’s campaign:
The easy thing to explain is why Dean lost the voters didnt like him. The hard thing to explain is why we (and why Dean himself) thought hed win, and easily at that. The bubble of belief, which collapsed so quickly and so completely, was inflated by tools that made formerly hard things easy, tricking us into thinking that getting votes had become easy as well we were all in Deanspace for a while there.
It was also inflated by our desire to see someone get it right, a fact that made us misunderstand the facts on the ground we suffered the same temptations as the campaign workers to regard our fellow citizens as definite supporters, even when we ourselves were supporting a movement rather than a campaign.
Its been a shock, but it doesnt have to be a fatal one. Lowering coordination costs and making it easier for citizens to create media and distributing fundraising to the masses are all good things. This year, however, to the surprise of many of us, pasting those things on to relatively traditional campaigns has worked better than the Dean campaigns organic strategy did. The biggest difficulty for whatever version of next time comes around will be remembering not to believe our own PR.