Along with millions of Americans, I too watched the election results last night as the gap between Obama and McCain increased and the critical swing states turned blue one by one. While’s it’s apparent that the vast majority of Americans are ready for a change, part of Obama’s election success can be attributed to his modern way of campaigning, utilizing the power of people and technology in a way never done before during during the election process.
Obama’s campaign recruited Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes, to build its own social networking site, myBarackObama.com. Talk about harnessing the power of the internet.
“The internet grew from being the medium of a core group of political junkies to a gateway for millions of ordinary Americans to participate in the political process, donating odd amounts of their spare time to their candidate through online campaign tools. Obama’s campaign carefully designed its web site to maximize group collaboration, while at the same time giving individual volunteers tasks they could follow on their own schedules.”
This collaboration of Obama supporters resulted in some creative contributions, such as the Obama ‘08 for iPhone, where social networking features allow users to participate in the campaign process with friends.
This next generation campaign strategy was able to reached out to millions of young voters whose voices might not have been heard otherwise. But by incorporating the technologies that are second nature to this generation into the campaign process, young voters throughout the nation found themselves wanting to take part in this historical landmark event. It wouldn’t be far fetched to say that it’s these young voters who helped convert traditionally republican states like Virginia to vote democratic for the first time in over 40 years.
“It was a peer-to-peer, bottom-up, open-source kind of ethos that infused this campaign,” says Benko, a principal of the political consulting firm Capital City Partners, in Washington, D.C. “Clearly, there was a vision to this.”
It’s undeniable that Barack Obama’s campaign took electioneering to a whole new level, one that harnesses the enthusiasm of his supporters. Needless to say, this landmark election will also serve as a turning point in how election campaigns will be approached in the future.