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Eight years ago, if someone would have asked me if a front runner candidate running for President could use the Internet as a tool to help him win, I would have said no.  But things are different now thanks to Howard Dean who helped pave the way for Barack Obama.  I don’t think Obama could have won the presidency without the Internet.

In The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Joe Trippi said, “I believe the 2008 election will be the first national contest waged and won primarily over the Internet. We are, right now, in the midst of sweeping aside shallow, cynical broadcast politics of ideas and issues that will define the Internet age.”  Well, Trippi was right, and I don’t think 2008 will be the last. 

During the 2000 election, George W. Bush raised $125 million.  Almost half of his money came from 59, 279 donors who donated the maximum amount at that time of $1,000.  Obama managed to raise about $640 million–that’s more than five times the amount of Bush.  Obama raised that much money because of the small donors.  The average donation Obama received was under $100–that’s incredible.  He did all of that without the help of public financing.  This could cause more candidates to opt out of public financing in 2012.

The American people found a voice and they used the Internet to get people to listen.  Now Obama has to answer to the people, not lobbyists, because the people are the ones responsible for getting him elected. 

Republicans lag behind Democrats in terms of using technology and the Internet, but a group of young prominent ideologically diverse Republicans are trying to change that.  They started a new website called “rebuild the party”in an effort to try to bring the Republicans together and change the direction of the party.  They have asked RNC chairman candidates to support their platform where they are placing more importance on Internet organizing and technology. 

I think the red team is starting to catch on, but just in case I’ll close on some advice to the Republicans out there who are interested in running for President in 2012:

“Now there are only two paths: Recognize this new technology as the redefining structure of our lives…or continue to believe that it’s only another gadget. Join the ranks…or hunker down behind the gates. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter what you do. The revolution began yesterday.” –Joe Trippi

ObamaPhone

According to research firm NDP Group, Apple’s iPhone has surpassed the Razr to be the the number one handset bought by U.S. adult consumers in the third quarter of 2008.  So it’s no wonder that President-elect Barack Obama decided to tap into Apple’s iPhone applications.  (I checked today, and Obama ’08 ranks number 9 out of the 10 most popular free news applications for the iPhone.)

Even though his campaign didn’t get the application up and running until one month before election day, every little bit helps.  While there aren’t any reports showing how influential the application was to getting Obama elected, it’s still a slick tool that future candidates running for President or Congress will begin to utilize. 

The Obama ’08 application had some really cool features.  For instance, under “Call Friends” it organized your contacts and highlighted those in swing states.  Users then identified who they called and what their response was: not interested, considering Obama, and already voted.  The Obama organizers said that the overall statistics were sent back to the campaign, while the contact information was not.  

One blogger thought the application was fantastic.  On November 4, 2008, under the call stats, more than 41,000 people had made calls nationwide, and there were more than 11,000 active callers.  

Another cool feature was how it used your phone’s GPS or Wi-Fi connection to determine your location in order to tell you what events were going on in your area.  I noticed on election night, there were ads for people looking for a ride to go to Chicago to see Obama give his speech on election night. 

From the beginning, Obama has said this campaign was not about him but it was about the people. By showing the statistics of how many calls people had made nationwide makes someone feel like they were part of something bigger.  It’s an incredible motivation tool, and the best part–it’s free!

My Space, Facebook, and now iPhone, candidates are advertising everywhere.  Obama’s iPhone application is just one example of how technology is changing the way politicians are advertising.

Someone even created an unofficial iPhone application for John McCain so he wouldn’t feel left out. 

Campaign 2008


The 2008 presidential campaign was filled with incredible, “I can’t believe that just happened” moments. Let’s start with the obvious. We elected our first African America to be our 44th president. That’s quite groundbreaking in itself.

However, the moment that will mean the most to me was the night that the media discovered Senator Joe Biden was going to be Barack Obama’s vice president. The night that disappointed many people who had signed up to receive the text message that came too late. The reason that I will always remember that night is because I played a key part in getting ABC News on the air.

It was midnight on Friday night and I went to work like any normal night, and the Producer tells me that we think that Barack Obama is going to pick Joe Biden to be his running mate. We had been preparing for months for this night. Gathering video of all the possible candidates, preparing all the graphics, and writing scripts so that we would be prepared on the night Obama announced his pick. I was in charge of rolling all the video that night. I went through all the clips, making sure I had the best ones cued at the top of my list so I would be ready when the Director said the magic words, “Roll it.”

I remember being so nervous and excited, my adrenaline was pumping, and for once on the overnights, I was wide-awake. While all my friends were out partying or sleeping, I was reporting the news and knew before everyone received their text message that Joe Biden was going to be Obama’s running mate.

Then when we got off air, and I thought phew, I can finally relax. No, no time for relaxing because we had to update the West Coast version on Nightline.

While it might not mean as much to others, it was a moment during the campaign that I will never forget. Okay…I also think I won’t be able to forget Tina Fey’s impersonations of Sarah Palin. Those were priceless.

White House 2.0

President-elect Barack Obama ran a very successful campaign.  He did what no one thought he would ever be able to do, and that’s become the 44th President of the United States of America.  I think one reason he was successful was because he discovered a way to engage the public and make them feel as if they were a part of his campaign by utilizing various tools of social media.  I would like to see him continue to do that when he officially moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama didn’t run from the Internet, he used it to his advantage.  The Obama campaign would upload videos to MyBarackObama.com constantly, sometimes several within an hour.  The key word being transparent.  Obama let people into a normally secretive and private process, and he let them join in.  Regular “Joe Plumbers” could make their own web videos and post them on the website.  The day after election night, Obama posted behind the scenes pictures on flickr .  Not only did it give people a chance to see what the Obama family was doing on election night, but it also gave the media another visual tool to tell the story.  I hope he continues this transparency into his administration.

Less than a month after being elected, he’s already off to a good start.  Obama is the first president to upload the weekly radio address on You Tube allowing more people to listen to what he has to say.  He has created a website for people to click on to get the latest news on the Obama administration. The website says, “And just as this historic campaign was, from the beginning, about you — the transition process will offer you opportunities to participate in redefining our government.”

I think the Obama administration should strive for an open government.  Daniel Engber thinks that Obama should posts its data and documents online, which will truly encourage his administration to be transparent and it holds them accountable for their actions.  Daniel believes this level of openness will build trust and support among voters while also promoting better decisions and more effective policies.  I think it will also encourage people to get involved in the government process.  Speak up and don’t be afraid to express your opinions.

I agree with what Micah L. Sifry said on TechPresident.com, “People don’t want to be treated as herd anymore, they want to be heard.”  I think Barack Obama understands that, and it will be interesting to see where he is going to lead the herd in the next four or possibly eight years.

It’s hard to believe that about sixty years ago in 1947, Harry Truman made the first-ever televised address to the nation from the White House.  He was asking Americans to cut back on the amount of grain they used in order to help European nations.  In 1947, television was a new commodity.  Most people turned to radio for the news, and the number of people who owned television sets was only in the thousands.  Now about 34% of households own a high definition television set.

As the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama is using a new medium to reach out to the American people–the Internet.  The Saturday radio addresses were initiated by President Reagan, and President-elect Obama is taking it to the next level by posting them on You Tube.  Obama spokesperson, Jen Psaki, told the Washington Post “This is just one of many ways that he will communicate directly with the American people and make the White House and the political process more transparent.”

The weekly radio addresses will be placed on the transition website, Change.gov.  Officials at Obama’s transition office say he will be frequently utilizing the Internet during his administration.  From having question and answer sessions to interviews.  Officials say the goal is to put a face on the government.

The problem with the weekly radio addresses is that people weren’t listening to them anymore.  By putting the radio addresses on You Tube, Obama can attract a larger audience.  With more than 700,000 views at You Tube, that’s a pretty good start.

Obama isn’t the only one who is making videos to be posted on chage. gov.  Co-Chair of the Obama transitions team, Valerie Jarrett has also posted a clip updating viewers on the transition progress.  She also talks about some of the major changes that have already occurred, such as Obama selecting Rahm Emanuel to be his Chief of Staff.  Maybe he’ll be the next one to make a video clip for change.gov.

More and more politicians are conducting microtargeting, but what exactly is it? Chris Cillizza describes it best, “In essence, political microtargeting is the marriage of traditional political polling with consumer data long used by big business to shape their sales pitch to their customers.” That doesn’t sound so bad, right? 

Well, some voters have a few issues about it. Privacy being the main one. Richard Waters with the Financial Times raises the question, “Do we really want national leaders to use Google’s AdWords and targeted emailing lists to talk to us, adjusting their message to suit the audience?” Why do politicians have to know what television shows voters watch or what kind of music they like? What happened to the idea of putting your message out there and having the people decide who they want to vote for? 

In Applebee’s America, Douglas B. Sosnik, Matthew J. Dowd, and Ron Fournier said, “Strategists for businesses and churches understood that people’s foremost priority is deciding where and how they’ll live and work; and those lifestyle choices are the predicate for every other decision they make–including how they shop, worship, and vote.”

For example, data collecting found that people who drive Land Rovers, Porsches, and Jaguars and watch NASCAR and the History Channel tend to be Republicans. However, Democrats drive a Subaru, Hyundai, or a Volvo.  They also enjoy watching Bravo, TNT, and Lifetime.  Knowing these specific lifestyle choices helped George W. Bush clinch the presidency in 2000. 

For instance, some strategists say that by winning Florida, Bush won the presidency. Florida happened to be one of the states that the Bush campaign microtargeted voters. Sosnik, Dowd, and Fournier discovered that in 2000 they had target 33% of voters who eventually voted for Bush. In 2004, that increased to 84%. The same thing happened in Iowa. They targeted 92% of eventual Bush voters, where as in 2000 they had only targeted 50%. Sosnik, Dowd, and Fournier said, “Democrats, meanwhile, fought the twenty-first-century campaign with tactics mired in the twentieth century.”

Looks like the Democrats learned their lesson.  During this past election it seems as if John McCain was running his campaign with “tactics mired in the twentieth century.” 

Microtargeting is here to stay. It will probably be used in the 2012 election and every other election to follow. Especially when some political strategists will argue that it helps candidates win, and that’s what politics is all about–winning. 

Since the 2004 presidential election between John Kerry and George W. Bush, the way the media covers politics and the way people watch politics has changed immensely. It was before everyone twittered, before people were addicted to their BlackBerrys and iPhones. I was not into politics during the 2004 presidential election, but I wanted to compare how the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. My boyfriend, Casey, is a huge political junkie. He worked for Howard Dean’s campaign and then later John Kerry’s campaign. I asked him what it was like on November 2, 2004–Election Day. 

“I was working in Southwest Ohio and the early exit pollings were showing that Kerry was doing well in Ohio and all over the country.  I had feelings of nervousness, excitement, anxiety, and hope. I was confident that John Kerry was going to win and felt proud that I was a part of campaign that I thought would change the direction the country was headed.”

“Where did you go to get your news?”

“All the networks were broadcasting during Election Day. My television was either on NBC or CNN. Some of the websites I visited were Drudge Report, all the major network’s websites, ABC News The Note, and every polling site up, amongst them Zogby Polls.”

“Working on a campaign, how did you reach out to those younger voters?”

“Instead of Facebook, I would rely on my supporter’s email contact list. That’s how we would expand our network. If we would have had social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, I think it would have provided an extra layer of accountability. One more way to check up on them, one more way to reach out to them, one more way to get them to the polls.”

It was interesting to hear what it was like for Casey during the 2004 presidential election. How he relied more heavily on AOL’s Instant Messenger to keep in contact with other staffers because Blackberry’s weren’t as common as they are now. iPhones and Twitter were nonexistent. In 2004, the main websites he turned to were Drudge Report and CNN, now he regularly visits Huffington Post, Drudge Report, and Real Clear Politics to name a few. There’s a much wider variety of websites to turn to for politics. Everyone and anyone can have a blog. David Carr and Brian Stetler from the New York Times said, “For many viewers, the 2008 election has become a kind of hybrid in which the dividing line between online and off, broadcast and cable, pop culture and civic culture, has been all but obliterated.”

I think social networking sites have had a huge impact on this election, and will forever change how campaigns are run. Facebook market developing director, Randi Zuckerberg, said “Every day we see over 200,000 posts that mention either [Democrat Barack] Obama or [Republican John] McCain.” Today while I was on Facebook, I noticed a lot of my friends had donated their statuses to get out the vote for Barack Obama. Facebook even had their own election, more than 4 million people have voted on Facebook. 

Casey and I are watching the results come in on ABC News. You could say we are a house divided. He was (and still is) a fan of Brian Williams and NBC. I work for ABC News and so I am a big fan of Charlie Gibson. I like to think I have converted him to ABC, but we still continue to change the channel switching between ABC and NBC. Maybe I’ll have him fully converted by 2012.