Can a new website bring a political party back to national competitiveness?
The Republican Party hopes so, as it launched a revamped website today aimed at making the party more accessible (read: "viral"?) through social networking utilities. The new GOP.com features an embedded, widgetized version of the party's Facebook page. It also cleverly asks if you want to sign in using your Facebook credentials (email and password)...at which point the site synchronizes itself with your Facebook account.
Users can let the site push status updates through their Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts., and the party hopes its new site will become a social networking tool in itself: beyond those sharing capabilities, the site will run Facebook-style applications built by coders and software engineers from home.
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to run too well on the new Internet Explorer. (UPDATE: Seems to be running fine on Internet Explorer now. Upon earlier loadings, portions of the site were missing; now they show up.)
In 2008, Democrats took the lead in using online tools to generate campaign activity, but Republicans aren't so un-savvy across the board: GOP lawmakers were the first to put Twitter to work during the 2008 energy debate, when they stayed in DC to occupy the House floor as everyone else had left for August, tweeting their dissent under the #dontgo hashtag.
New media was also part of Chairman Michael Steele's promise as incoming chairman, so the new site could be something of a signature move for him. If there's any doubt, watch what happens when you open the site for the first time: Steele actually walks out across the page and personally introduces the "forward-looking, open platform for the party of new ideas."