Think Iowa Caucus folkways meets Silicon Valley tech savvy: A group of high-tech entrepreneurs are using online and offline social networking to evaluate, pick, and support their presidential candidate. The groups skip traditional intermediaries—namely, political parties—to meet directly with candidates, then use their widespread (and wealthy) social networks to organize on the candidate's behalf.
The goal is to change the fundraising game, bringing a larger set of players into the fold. "There have always been such groups, but they've often been behind closed doors in Washington, and they're often mostly male," says Nancy Parris, one of the new networkers. Now candidates come to her, and she uses her network to spread the message she likes best.