The Internet has transformed campaign finance as much as any technology in recent memory. Since 2000, but especially since 2004 (influenced by Howard Dean’s impressive fundraising during the Democratic primary) every campaign has employed a comprehensive strategy for using the Internet to gain support and funds. Among other important functions, an effective website serves as a powerful tool for campaign finance. In the past, candidates required large teams of workers in each state making telephone calls, holding dinners, and going door to door through neighborhoods asking for donations. The Internet has the advantage of low costs and the ability to easily reach a wide audience. With e-mail outreach and website promotion, the once-significant cost of fundraising can become marginal. By utilizing the Internet, campaigns over the last few presidential cycles have been able to shatter previous fundraising records while devoting fewer campaign resources specifically to fundraising efforts. Conversely, candidates must now account for the need to raise even more funds due to the equal ease with which opponents can raise money by using the Internet.
MediaShift: How Technology Changed American Politics in the Internet Age