Magazine article ADWEEK

Internet Sites Promote the Politics of Change: Seeking to Make a Difference Nov. 2, 'Netizens' Target Minority Voters

Magazine article ADWEEK

Internet Sites Promote the Politics of Change: Seeking to Make a Difference Nov. 2, 'Netizens' Target Minority Voters

Article excerpt

ATLANTA Combining the experience and wisdom of civil-lights activists of the 1960s with the technical abilities of a younger generation, Chris Rabb is leveraging the Web to organize and motivate African American voters.

The self-professed Internet addict and political junkie has maintained the Web log, afro-netizen.com, for the past five years, and this week plans to launch a site that will provide petition forms and election-related information.

"There are politicians who don't understand the power of this group," said Rabb, who raised financing for the get-out-the-vote effort through Progressive Civic Fund, a 527 political-interest group he formed this summer. "We will have a very powerful effect on the election."

Rabb's site, www.progressivecivic.org, is one of several online efforts aimed at mobilizing the nation's racial and ethnic minorities in the month leading up to the Nov. 2 presidential election.

With nearly 60 percent of African American and Hispanic American households and 75 percent of Asian American households online, the Internet is proving to be a "cost effective, very efficient and, of course, measurable way to reach these groups," explained Brian Reich, director of the Boston outpost of Mindshare Internet Campaigns, which helps organizations advance public-affairs objectives online.

"Television, direct mail, even door-to-door, are ... too widespread. You're going to waste a tremendous amount of time and energy in terms of trying to target [these groups], or it's just going to be too labor intensive," he added. While the presidential candidates address these constituents on their Web sites through dedicated sections and other references, they are "not targeting Their messages hugely toward these folks [online]," said Reich. Representatives from the campaigns did not respond to requests to discuss their initiatives by press time.

Much of the pre-election-day online activity primarily comes from grassroots groups, minority organizations and 527s, such as Rabb's, in the form of Web sites, blogs, message boards and e-mail communications.

For Hispanics, a 527-based Web site called HispanicAction.com launched last month to help the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority navigate the election process. And Bantanga, an online Latin music broadcaster with 1.5 million listeners, is providing Spanish-language content for MTV's Rock the Vote and online voter-registration forms.

Past elections indicate that a higher turnout among African American and Latino voters will benefit the Democrat, Sen. John Kerry. About 90 percent of the more than 13 million African Americans who voted in the last presidential election supported the Democratic candidate, Al Gore, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Of the nation's 5.9 million registered Hispanic voters, 63 percent voted for Gore and 35 percent voted for George W. Bush in 2000, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund. …

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