GOP Finds Religion, Online
The initial campaign was intended to attract volunteers, and the second to raise funds at around the time of the Republican and Democratic party conventions, said Jonathan Yang, senior media consultant for the Salem Web Network. The site network includes Crosswalk.com, Christian audio content site OnePlace.com, and SermonSearch.com, a site featuring sermons in text and video format.
"We've got a lot of social conservatives on our site," said Yang, adding that buying space on the site was "a natural choice" for the RNC. "It translates into their leanings," he said.
Yang said that the RNC regrets not paying closer attention to evangelicals in the 2000 presidential election. "Everyone I've talked to has said they can't ignore evangelicals in this election," comments Yang in reference to his political advertiser contacts on the right and left sides of the spectrum.
Although many evangelical Christians support Bush's reelection, "they might need a nudge" to actually cast their ballots for him, said Yang. He suggested that an e-mail from the President sent to Salem's subscriber database of 750,000 people wouldn't hurt.
Although neither have scheduled any promotions through the Salem Web Network, the John Kerry for President and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaigns have been in contact with Yang. Before the election, he's expecting last-minute media buys from the Bush campaign, and possibly the Kerry campaign and issue advocacy groups. Yang has "most definitely" seen a boost in political advertiser interest in the site network as the November election has neared.
The RNC and the campaigns for Bush and Kerry did not respond to MediaPost's requests for comment.
Online Christian marketplace and community ChristiaNet aims to connect its audience of over 1 million unique visitors per month with ministry, business, and political leaders. Through an automated online system, 15,000 ChristiaNet users have sent messages to George Bush and John Kerry requesting that they "Please bring Biblical issues to the forefront of this election."
When the site sent 30,000 of its audience members an e-mail asking which election issues are important to them, thousands responded within hours, said David Williams, business development manager at ChristiaNet.
Among the issues ranked as most important to respondents, same-sex marriages, abortion, qualification of Supreme Court judges, Medicare improvements, creating jobs in America, and combating terrorism in America were top priorities.
"We're encouraging people to vote based upon the book of principles," explains Williams, who says the site does not officially support one party over another.
A political poll of ChristiaNet visitors conducted in July showed that Bush garnered 76 percent of the visitors' support and Kerry the remaining 24 percent; no other option, such as undecided, was given to voters.
Williams said the company spoke with decision-makers from the Bush and Kerry campaigns several times, asking them to respond to questions regarding how they stand on the 10 issues. The Bush campaign responded, and the Kerry campaign declined.
After making President Bush's statements available on its site, ChristiaNet launched another poll this month asking participants to choose Bush, Kerry, or "undecided" based on each of the same 10 issues in the initial poll. The results: 90 percent picked Bush, five percent chose Kerry, and the remaining five percent were undecided.