VoterVoter.com is a new web site from advertising firm WideOrbit, which manages $10 billion worth of advertising on 950 TV, radio, and cable stations in the US, that brings the dirty game of campaign attacks ads directly to the people. Billing themselves as "a non-partisan political advertising service" that was founded to "further democratize the political process," what it really is is a way for any Tom, Dick, or Larry with a couple of thousand bucks to do what 527 organizations do every election cycle: play dirty politics.
VoterVoter.com is something like Spot Runner for political ads. Users can upload their own advertising and pay to have it put on the air in local markets, while WideOrbit promises to work with users to make sure the ads conform with FEC law. The site offers a library of pre-made ads -- though most so far are user uploaded clips of candidates (or actual campaign ads from the candidates themselves) rather than polished, independently created political ads ready for television.
Interestingly, Spot Runner also just started offering political ads. The difference, though, is that while Spot Runner is targeting local elections -- making it easier for a person running for, say, a town council seat to run a television ad -- VoterVoter.com is talking national politics. The purpose of VoterVoter.com is for individuals to run ads supporting or attacking Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John McCain -- who each have their own section in the site's ad library.
What's the point of paying to run an ad in support of your favorite candidate rather than just giving directly to the campaign? According to VoterVoter.com the reason is that you can get around the Federal Election Commission's $4,600 campaign donation cap per candidate. "Because you are not contributing to a campaign, but are making your own choice on how to spend your money, your independent expenditure is not limited," reads the site's FAQ.
Another reason, one that VoterVoter.com doesn't mention, is that by bypassing your candidate's official campaign, you're free to engage in dirty politics that candidates generally try to avoid. Anyone up for a little swiftboating?
As The Nation notes, MoveOn.org recently launched a pro-Barack Obama TV commercial contest, with the winning ad to be aired nationally. VoterVoter.com will allow any ad to find its way on the air -- which may not be a good thing. One one hand, it does put more power in the hands of the people to influence American politics, but on the other hand, it also makes it easier for partisan organizations to engage in smear campaigns, which is exactly the type of politics we should be working to eliminate, not encourage.
What do you think of VoterVoter.com? Does it add to the political process or make things worse? Share your thoughts in the comments.