Although former Vermont governor Howard Dean failed to win the Democratic presidential nomination, his campaign left a strong imprint on the political world. It assembled a network of over a half-million active supporters and contributors, raised over $20 million in mostly small donations online, and demonstrated the power of the internet as a networking and mobilizing tool in politics. Who are the internet activists – the people widely known as “Deaniacs” – who joined the Dean campaign as it slowly grew from asterisk status in early 2003 polls to the frontrunner position at the beginning of 2004?
This Pew survey provides the first detailed look at the cyber-soldiers of this pioneering campaign. An internet survey with a random sample of 11,568 activists drawn from the online database of those who had contributed money or otherwise worked on behalf of Gov. Dean provides insight into who they are, why they joined, how they reacted to Dean’s loss and President Bush’s reelection, and what they think about the future of the Democratic Party. The survey was conducted in two waves: one before the election (Sept. 13-Oct. 12, 2004), and a second after the election (Nov.18-Dec. 14, 2004).