as the time-honored practice of campaign tracking goes viral, thanks to new technology such as video-enabled smart phones and sophisticated streaming software.
While political campaigns used to take hours to review and comment on video shot by their spies, the turnaround has become nearly instantaneous this year.
That means a politician's gaffe can be seen by thousands of people online within minutes of it happening. It also means a tracker can be anyone with a cell phone, rather than a camcorder.
During a recent talk by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, for example, Whitman's spokesmen were watching a live feed of the speech and blasting e-mail responses to his comments even as the event was under way.
The Whitman campaign has broken new ground by using tools such as Ustream and iPhones to transmit live video from trackers.
"This has become a fundamental operation for every campaign across the country," said Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei. "In fact, Jerry Brown Inc. has been tracking Meg for months. Our campaign is using technology to distribute information from public events in a more efficient way."
Such innovations prompted the Democratic National Committee last week to launch what it dubbed its Accountability Project, which invites supporters all over the country to record Republican candidates' public events and send in their video.
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