Special elections leave very little time for political organizing—a candidate can have just weeks to raise money, build up a volunteer list and make voters notice that a political race is actually on. For a congressional candidate with two months to run, the fighter pilot’s rule applies: speed is life. With that constraint in mind, let’s look at the websites of two candidates for the NY-20 seat: Republican Jim Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy.Kudos all around: at first glance, both sites get the job done. Both brand the candidate well—they have solid visuals, with good imagery of Their Man talking sincerely with citizens, plus clear navigation to guide people to the information they might want on the site (a bad online experience is strike one when you’re trying to recruit voters, volunteers and donors). Both sites gather email addresses, feature video clips on the front page, show recent campaign news, solicit donations, invite site visitors to follow the candidate on social websites and include a prominent direct note from the candidate himself (between the two, you get to choose your own 1998-ish website intro adventure: “Dear Friend” or “Welcome to my Site”). Both sites are also a little thin on facts and issue positions, but that’s understandable on such a short timeline.A more lingering look shows a difference in emphasis, though. Republican Tedisco’s site seems initially to have more going on, with a changing image at the frontpage top and a scrolling ticker (of donors) on a downloadable fundraising widget to the right (bonus points: dig the Tedisco/Tabasco pun). As fits the current Republican Internet fascination, the front page streams his most recent Twitter posts and has a separate signup to receive text messages from the campaign plus a list of upcoming volunteer events. A quick right-click and a look at the site source code shows that he’s using Constant Contact for email signups and a site called Tagga.com to gather text messages, which helps explain the modular approach: rather than employ a single volunteer-management software suite, his campaign seems to have put together a package using several different off-the-shelf systems.Democrat Murphy’s site, by contrast, benefits from using a single supporter-management provider, shown again by “viewing source” to be NGP Software, which allows his designers to unify the various signups on the page and keep the site looking more “clean.” Visually, the site also shows the influence of the 2008 version of BarackObama.com, with an email-gathering splash screen and “ghosted” graphics behind a cutout of the candidate at the top of the front page. Overall, the emphasis is less on individual widgets and more on ruthlessly gathering supporter names, an Obama-team specialty that’s clearly catching on among Democrats.Both approaches are valid and probably driven as much by circumstance as by choice, though a unified and high-end voter-mobilization system probably makes life easier for Murphy’s staff. Each site gives its guy a chance online—it’s what the campaigns actually do with the volunteers they capture over the Internet that’s much more likely to make a difference on election day.Colin Delany is a 13-year veteran of the internet politics space, an online communications consultant and the founder and editor of Epolitics.com.