With so much praise being given to the Obama campaign for his strategy behind using the Internet to fundraise, organize groups online and essentially, win the election, many forget to offer credit to the political frontrunners that began using technology before Obama to also succeed in their campaigning efforts. While no candidate used technology to the extent that the Obama campaign did, Howard Dean was a pioneer in Internet fundraising and took the first step towards using technology to fundraise online and solicit small donations from multiple audiences.


In his book The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Joe Trippi discusses the power of the Internet in campaigning. His fundraising success speaks for itself: Dean’s campaign began with 432 supporters, each pledging to find one more person to contribute whatever they could to his nascent campaign.  Nine months later, his campaign had 650,000 supporters and had raised more than $50 million, in average contributions of $77. 


So the question is: can a frontrunner candidate effectively utilize the internet, or is it a tool to be used by underdog candidates?


With the precedent that Dean and Obama already set in place, I think any candidate will need to use elements of technology to stay competitive. A frontrunner candidate may have the needed resources (i.e. money) to use more sophisticated online tools (Google Ad Words, Facebook, video technology), though my guess is, the basic elements of technology – from blogs to a savvy campaign website with embedded social media tools – is no longer something we will study as innovative. These are now necessary, almost traditional tools a candidate will have to use to successfully campaign. It will certainly be interesting to see where technology takes us over the course of the next four years.


This class has introduced me to a new world of political campaigning. Though it is impossible to overlook the power that the Internet has on our daily lives, when studied closely, it is amazing to see how politics has evolved over time – especially with the advent of various technologies.


[The Dean campaign is] the story of dozens of committed people who waged a political campaign unlike any in history. It’s about the things that we did right, the mistakes we made, and the lessons we learned that can be applied to every election, every product, every issue in America. It’s about the man we rallied behind, a politician who had the courage to stand up and question the country’s path when all the others seemed to want nothing more than to hide.


But most of all it’s the story of people standing up and making themselves heard. It’s the story of how to engage those Americans in a real dialogue, how to reach them where they live, how to stop selling to them and start listening to them, how to make better use of the most revolutionary idea to come along since the f irst man learned to light a fire.


No, I’m not talking about the Internet. Or computers. Or telecommunications.


I’m talking about democracy.


– Joe Trippi



Free Post: She’s Back

I’m sure we have all heard the news that Hillary Clinton will be appointed as President-elect Obama’s Secretary of State. Personally, I am definitely a supporter of this decision – not only because I think she is more than qualified and deserves the position, but also because her  commitment to fostering human rights around the globe is a perfect compliment to Obama’s campaign platform. A recent article outlines how Hillary will work with the new administration, noting that “she’ll bring global star power, a long-standing commitment to improving the status of women and children around the world and muscular promises of military action when U.S. interests are crossed.”


Based off the fierce competition during the Democratic primaries, it is clear that Clinton has a slew of supporters. After reading the news however, I did observe (not surprisingly) some skeptic views from the media and bloggers – some who question whether she will be protected, how she will handle issues surrounding the war, even whether the appointment is constitutional.  


I thought I would open the discussion on Obama’s decision. She is obviously great on paper though many have not overlooked the perceived hypocrisy of her appointment. If Obama is supposed to be the paragon of Change for America, why appoint someone who, for months of her campaign, butt heads with the [now] president-elect? Also, is change really going to happen from someone who was affiliated with a previous administration?  


I think it is important to consider the skeptic views – I guess it keeps us honest. What are your thoughts? Will Hillary inspire the Change that Obama promised us during the campaign? 

A Look Back

It seems as though the 2008 Obama/McCain election was the longest campaign in history. Remember in January 2007 when Hillary announced her intent to seek the White House bid. Shortly after, in February 2007 Obama announced his intent to run for president. In April 2007 McCain announced his candidacy.

And the battle began.

For months until Obama officially secured the nomination, the spotlight was on the Democratic prospects. What was going to be a historic result, regardless of the outcome, the coverage that surrounded Clinton and Obama seemed to saturate every media outlet around the country.

Eventually however the Democratic and Republican candidates were settled and in February 2008, McCain and Obama went head-to-head in a 10-month campaign that would certainly be remembered forever as one of the most historic elections in American history.  

The slew of campaign advertisements on TV:

Obama’s “Still” Ad:

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McCain Fires Back:

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Obama’s historic speeches:

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The thought of Hillary being named VP and the shocking announcement of Sarah Palin:


Obama’s text message announcing Biden as his running mate:


The number of celebrities and young voters who supported each of the candidates:

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The countless parodies:

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The emergence of technology tools to engage voters around the country:



And, the announcement of the country’s first African American president:


Of course, the list of examples could go on forever as can the number of historic breakthroughs. Personally I will never forget (and especially after taking this class) the role technology and social media played in the campaign. I can only imagine the reach the Internet will have on future elections. Clearly, as Obama demonstrated time and time again – the possibilities are endless. 

Free Post: The Liberal [social] Media


I was in my ethics class last week and my professor brought up an interesting point. Although the election was a landslide, McCain still won 47% of the votes – meaning, 47% of America woke up on Wednesday morning without the same [overjoyed] feelings as the majority of us. As the Ombudsman for NPR, she paid particular attention to NPR’s post-election coverage and pulled up the December 5th headlines that saturated the page:


After Obama Win, Washington Reflects

Barack Obama Names Transition Team

What To Expect From Obama Now

Champagne Corks Pop In Paris For Obama


The NPR news coverage was certainly not unique. On December 5th, headlines and stories of nearly all national and global media outlets covered everything from Obama’s historic speech to his promise to bring a puppy to the White House. My professor was not of course denying that such a momentous occasion warrants substantial praise. She wondered however if any students, who were among the 47% minority, were offended by the lack of acknowledgment the media gave to the McCain campaign.


Being among the majority, I just assumed that the coverage of the McCain camp would naturally decline. It was time now to focus one what was going to happen to America – not on what did not happen, right? She did raise an interesting issue – was the media being inconsiderate to McCain? Not offering any sympathy for his loss, acknowledging a job well done or commending him for a humble speech? I suppose the argument could be made that the Republican party has always been rather underrepresented in the press. I just thought I would throw the topic out there to learn if anyone felt the blatant disregard for the McCain camp after the election was poor ethics or another example of the liberal media?

Obama 2.0

After all the hype that surrounded the Obama campaign, I never really thought what the implications his e-tactics would have on his presidency. And then, as soon as the election was over – article after article surfaced the Web, outlining the plans for the White House 2.0.

I cannot remember (or have not studied) a time in history when the public was this engaged in any political event. I attribute this partially to the dynamic of this election in particular but mostly to the number of technology outlets that made it so easy for people to stay attuned to the issues, recent news and important events.

For some reason I assumed the Obama videos, text messages, blogs and daily emails were about to end with his victory. He already raised half a billion online. 


It seems however these e-successes are only the beginning. His team is amazing. We all know by now that Obama plans to address the nation once a week via YouTube – I really like the headline because it defines what is now an integral role for the Obama team – and it is completely driven by technology:

“Obama appoints YouTube (Google) as secretary of video” 

Sure, it’s a joke, but video – mobile video especially – is one tool among many that will redefine politics as we know it. Personally, I think it is fascinating and I am eager to see how sites such as change.gov, democrats.org, whitehouse.gov and mybarackobama.com will keep the public informed on issues that are important to them – the tools can do anything from, as Kevin Thurman notes, communicating breaking news, legislation and even getting holiday cards out.

The brilliance behind Obama’s Web tactics will be difficult to surpass. Some may consider technology, or the use of technology, a bit intrusive. I think however, if Obama can successfully use Web tools to organize groups of supporters online, inspire youth to be informed and attuned to issues and ultimately, keep democracy alive with an open, shared government – I’ll take a few extraneous emails any day. 



Although the Bush camp seemed to dabble with voter profiling and analysis in the 2004 election, micro-targeting was redefined in 2008 when Obama and his advisors pinpointed exactly how to target and engage voters and ultimately win the election. The use of data mining techniques to segment demographics and predict voting behavior is now a facet of political campaigning that is only going to become more sophisticated over time.

Personally, I think micro-targeting is an effective campaign tool. Though some consider it invasive, the alternative – blind, almost haphazard campaigning – is absolutely less convincing than an email, text message or piece of direct mail that pertains to my interests. The reality is, micro-targeting is not just a trend but an established campaign tool.

I read an interesting article that went beyond micro-targeting and discussed how voter databases would influence Obama’s Web communications during his presidency. As the first candidate to successfully run a Web-based campaign, some speculate that Obama will use his solid database of supporters to communicate about policies and continue the momentum of his campaign. Already the Obama camp has launched change.gov to keep his supporters engaged and informed during the transition. What’s next? As the Post reports, “Obama could use Internet ads to solicit signatures for petitions, or he could place display and video ads contextually — so they would appear on the screen next to news coverage of his proposals.”

It may sound extreme but everything thus far has definitely surpassed our expectations. The reality is, in 2008, the Democrats nailed micro-targeting and set a precedent for future candidates. The implications it will have on the White House is sure to be a technological marvel for the books as well.


Free Post: Yes, He Did

I will never forget last week’s election. I am a DC transplant and moved here a little more than two months ago. Going out and watching the election with the hundreds of Obama supporters is an experience I will never forget – and, the rest of the night was just as extraordinary. I have never seen such unity – from DC and Kenya to Chicago and the virtual world on the Internet – the world truly came together yesterday to celebrate a defining moment in history.

I am taken aback by all of the media coverage that surrounded Obama’s victory. I am amazed by the global reaction – the following he built from millions of people – all who believed that yes, America could.

Some of my favorite pictures from the global reaction:

Sydney, Australia


Obama, Japan


New Delhi, India


And, to get a glimpse of headlines from around the world – check out the front pages for November 5, 2008 – courtesy of the Newseum. Or, a video montage of the headlines:

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On November 5th, transcripts of both McCain and Obama’s speeches saturated the Internet. Ann Nixon Cooper, the 106-year-old woman Obama referenced in his speech became a national figure. And headline after headline on blogs and mainstream media news sites instantly popped up as soon as the winner was declared.

The Obama McCain election was undoubtedly historic – technology definitely turned the tides of this election and every one hereafter. Obama used technology from the inception of his campaign right up until the polls closed on Tuesday. As Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin note in a post-election article on Politico – “The coalition Obama assembled proved as modern as the technology his campaign employed.” His 21st century campaign not only changed how politicians will campaign, Obama redefined America – the

“young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of red states and blue states: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.”

-President-elect Barack Obama