The technological push

Jean Gadberry

This election was much different than past elections for many reasons.  The biggest change is the way that Barack Obama ran his election.  He developed a very large Internet based campaign that included text messaging, easy donation giving, job application opportunities, a myspace page with an enormous base, 3 million supporters on facebook and over 10 million email addresses. He even announced his VP pick of Joe Biden with text messages. Needless to say a large Internet base overall.  He changed the face of politics for many, especially for the youth in his race for the White House.  Howard Dean tried this, but failed to win his bid in 2004. Obama’s strategy does not appear to be changing either.  He now has, which is his website for the transition.  It includes blogs, and videos of Obama, much like his campaign site minus the donation requests.


There is no doubt that there was a large pull with the website and other multi-media outlets to attract numerous people to vote who would may not have voted in previous elections.  In fact, Pew Internet & Life Project note that 46% of  ALL Americans have used the Internet, email,  or text messaging to get information about the campaign. As stated by the Pew research:

 ·   74% of wired Obama supporters have gotten political news and information online, compared with 57% of online Clinton supporters. 

·   In a head-to-head matchup with Internet users who support Republican McCain, Obama’s backers are more likely to get political news and information online (65% vs. 56%).

 ·   Obama supporters outpace both Clinton and McCain supporters in their usage of online video, social networking sites and other online campaign activities.

With the large range of campaign messages being relayed through mediums not the television, this helped with the large movement to get the youth involved. 

politico.comUsing tools that this demographic (youth being defined as 18-29) uses daily made Obama’s message easily accessible. There has been a huge push for the youth of the nation to come out and vote.  Here is an internet video produced to get out the youth vote, much like many others.

And it worked, at least a little bit and in turn, the youth vote did come out. Just not as much as anticipated. In fact not much more than in 2004, just a 17% v. 18% difference.  The distinction was the party they supported. They made their stand mostly in support of Obama. Sixty-six percent of voters under age 30 preferred Obama while just 32 percent favored McCain.  But the truth is the youth vote did not prove to be a must have for Obama. 


There is no denying that the landscape for campaigns has changed, and that the new way for candidates to get close to his or her constituents is going to be much more technologically based.  That is not to say there is not still a great importance on face to face campaigning, but the added coverage has been tested and proven by our President-Elect Obama. 



Filed under Media, Obama, Uncategorized

3 responses to “The technological push

  1. Matt Knipple

    Those are very interesting statistics. I did not realize internet played such an important role in this election or past elections in the ways that you pointed out (maybe I’m just being ignorant). I think the internet can be a huge asset for a political candidate, as Obama has proven, even though it failed for Dean as you pointed out. Anymore, so many people spend so much time on the internet surfing webpages such as facebook and myspace, if a candidate can tap that resource well, it could be an enormous advantage to them as those statistics point out. Myspace and facebook are such popular outlets for the young vote it can be just what a candidate needs (though as stupid as it may sound) to win an election.

  2. stephenanoriega

    Obama had the Net-Roots without the fatal Dean Scream. He also learned from the Net-Root example and improved on it vastly. The stats should not be disheartening as all young voters participate less. However, those young voters eventually become middle-aged voters and it is good to have such a large group on your side for such a long time.

  3. Tony Robinson

    Great data and on-target observations about how the youth vote didn’t so much explode this election as it shifted. That is, turnout didn’t go way up, but the loyalties of this group shifted dramatically to the Dems. Will the shift be enduring? Well, voting habits made early in life tend to endure–and there are precious few current trends in the GOP that point towards them reaching out more effectively to young voters. Pro-life social conservatism is just not popular with the young-uns. And a party whose voters are 90% white (McCain’s voters) is NOT the youth-party of the future.

    As for the technology–the book Millenial makeover makes the argument that great electoral transformations accompany the rise of a new communication technology. They link 1896 to the rise of industrial era mass communication, 1930s were driven by rise of the FDR radio dominance, Kennedy’s Dems rose on the backs of the television revolution, and now Obama’s Dems are web surfers. A bit overstated in its technological determinism, I think, but an interesting hypothesis and very interesting book.

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