When candidates talk about waging nontraditional campaigns, they usually mean using free and social media to bypass the official gatekeepers and avoid some of the cost of the conventional ground game. Some nontraditional campaigns do well in the national polls, but the major parties don't yet use a national popular vote to pick their nominees.
Candidates tend to wage these kind of campaigns because they either don't want to the kind of grueling state-by-state campaigning necessary to win actual primaries and caucuses (Fred Thompson) or don't have the organizational strength to do so (Newt Gingrich). Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum are all working Iowa the old-fashioned way and seem poised to reap the benefits.
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