fredag 15 februari 2008

The Tech of Obamamania: Online Phone Banks, Mass Texting and Blogs

The Tech of Obamamania: Online Phone Banks, Mass Texting and Blogs:

The use of technology like blogs, mass texting and online phone banks has been key to Sen. Barack Obama's surprise sweep of recent primaries.

The Illinois senator's campaign has been making use of a range of technologies -- from ringtones to SMS -- to inspire Obamamania. And it's working. Obama's recent parade of victories in the primaries has given him a slight lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"They've been using [texting] to get out the vote, which is incredibly smart because it gives people a way to take immediate political action," says Julie Germany, director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet. "It's just what mobile technology is suited for."

The Illinois senator is not the only candidate whose campaign is using online technology and mobile phones, but his has been one of the most effective in its embrace of new tech strategies.

On Tuesday, for example, Obama supporters who signed up with the candidate received a text message reminding them to vote. The text message included a phone number to help them find their polling station, a key feature that helped get out the vote.

Other campaigns have experimented with texting, but haven't been as effective, Germany says. Last summer, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' campaign used text messaging to notify supporters of a televised speech. Germany, co-author of a study on the use of mobile phone technology in politics, says Edwards' campaign might as well as have used e-mail.

This week, the Obama campaign organized volunteers to make thousands of phone calls to get out the vote using an online phone-banking tool.

The technology helped the campaign target rival Hillary Clinton's base of Hispanic voters and female voters. The Obama campaign reports that volunteers made 5,000 calls in Spanish in Virginia alone, using its online Spanish phone-banking tool.

The tactic appears to have been successful. Initial exit polls on Tuesday evening showed that Obama won 54 percent of the Hispanic vote, a much bigger chunk than was expected of the electorate that up to now has mostly been voting for Clinton, according to inside-the-Beltway newspaper and website The Politico.

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