WASHINGTON: Meetup.com is joining forces with grassroots specialist Capitol Advantage in an effort to remain as important to national politics in 2004 as it was in 2003.
The year-old website aided in former Vermont Governor Howard Dean's surge to the front of the Democratic field last year by helping disparate groups of his supporters find one another online and arrange in-person strategy sessions. Thanks to the new partnership, the same courtesy will now be extended to all candidates in every congressional and gubernatorial race in 2004.
Capitol Advantage is a provider of grassroots software and a publisher of several popular political directories. As part of the agreement, Meetup will have access to the company's constantly updated database of candidates and races. Meetup will use the information to schedule its so-called "meet-ups" for every candidate.
In turn, Capitol Advantage will promote the website by providing links from its public site, Congress.org, and in its election newsletters.
The deal marks the first time that Meetup will schedule its own gatherings, as opposed to its users facilitating all of the get-togethers.
Myles Weissleder, Meetup's VP of communications, said that the accord with Capitol Advantage "saves Meetup from a lot of manual work to seek out and qualify all the candidates." He added that the announcement will be just one of many to come in 2004 as Meetup executives make efforts to "optimize the service."
"We're very pleased to partner with Meetup so that in the coming election season Americans can easily connect online and then move offline to neighborhood caf?s and bookstores to work for candidates they support," said Bob Hansan, president of Capitol Advantage. "This will be the year of mass civic participation through these Meetup events."