Obama, McCain campaigns
use new technology to the max
Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) From advertising in video games and specialised
iPhone applets to extensive on-line supporter networks and
Youtube videos, the unprecedented use of new media and technology
in the 2008 US presidential race has implications for political
campaigns worldwide and may well be a precursor to future
use of Internet and communication tools such mobile text messaging
has enabled the candidates to bypass traditional media and
connect with the voters directly.
Obama announced John Biden was his vice presidential running
mate, supporters who had previously registered their phone
numbers received the news via text message and email ahead
of the news media.
both the McCain and Obama campaigns have heavily used the
Internet and other technologies, Obama, who is the clear favourite
among young voters, is by far the leader in the use of these
is also the only presidential candidate to buy ad space in
video games. Eighteen games, including popular "Guitar
Hero" and "Madden 09", feature in-game ads
from the Obama campaign that appear on billboards and other
signage in the game.
days of the launch of the iPhone 3g the Obama camp released
a special iPhone applet that allowed his supporters to canvass
and receive up-to-date campaign news on their iPhone.
the four years since the last US presidential election, there
has been an explosion in what is called the "social media".
The media, which primarily includes online social networking
sites such as Facebook and Myspace, has redefined social interaction
for the 18-29-year-old generation.
social networking sites provide an alternative and easy way
for like-minded people to connect with one another, share
ideas and form communities. This enables socially diverse
and geographically dispersed groups to come together on a
Obama and McCain campaigns have their presence on networking
sites such as Facebook and MySpace.
Obama camp has official presence on 16 networking and information
sharing websites. These range from networking sites such as
LinkedIn to the photo-sharing site Flickr.
use of online video sharing through sites such as Youtube
and Brightcove by both candidates and supporters is another
feature of the 2008 presidential race and every speech, TV
interview and gaffe is publicly available on the web.
the candidates have dedicated Youtube channels and thousands
of supporters have also posted home-made video clips on the
web. In fact, the most-viewed election-related video on Youtube
is not by any of the candidates but a small clip by a McCain
supporter Iraq war returnee. The clip titled "Dear Mr
Obama" attracted 11 million hits.
communication tools provide a powerful means to harness and
organise grassroots political support and enable individual
volunteers to contribute to the campaigns in an unprecedented
official Obama campaign website provides registered volunteers
a detailed script and a list of voters to call. These voters
are largely from swing states and volunteers have the option
of selecting the state they want to call.
tools have revolutionized the extent to which a campaign can
take advantage of the volunteer network. Obama's official
site claimed that volunteers using the "online voter
contact tool" made 431,645 calls on Nov 1.
to such online tools, volunteers are no longer required to
deal with their local campaign offices and can canvass from
new technology has not just lowered the barriers for entry
into civic participation by reducing the cost, time and effort
involved; it has also made the whole process much more interactive
and placed more control in the hands of the individual volunteers.
candidate websites have also evolved since the last elections
and both Mccain and Obama have campaign websites that act
as one-stop shops for supporters.
giving extensive information including videos about the candidates
and their views on various issues, these also provide online
volunteer registration and online fund contribution.
official website Barackobama.com has sections addressing specific
groups ranging from "Mediterranean Americans" to
"People Of Faith". It also features an "Obama
Store" selling campaign T-shirts, mugs, sticker and buttons.
site also has an "Obama-Biden Tax Calculator" by
which one can find out how much tax cut to expect if Obama
technology is no substitute for real-life interaction and
can never completely replace the traditional baby-kissing
and handshake routine of political campaigns, its use for
engaging youth, bringing together people with minimum effort
and cost, organising volunteer operations and providing an
alternative fundraising route is bound to increase in the