US President-elect Barack Obama owes much of his success to his command of the Internet as a fundraising and organising tool. Both Obama and Republican rival John McCain relied on the Net to bolster their campaigns, but Obama’s online success dwarfed his opponent’s and proved key to his winning the presidency.
Volunteers used Obama’s website to organise a thousand phone-banking events in the last week of the race – and 150 000 other campaign-related events over the course of the campaign. Supporters created more than 35 000 groups clumped by affinities like geographical proximity and shared pop-cultural interests.
The scale of Obama’s campaign reached massive proportions. By Election Day, for example, it was asking its cadres of volunteers to make a million phone calls to get out the vote. By the end of the campaign, http://myBarackObama.com chalked up some 1.5 million accounts. And Obama raised a record-breaking $600m (£400m) in contributions from more than three million people, many of whom donated through the Web.
The campaign was constantly adding new features even to the end, and I hope that Obama will bring this approach with him to the White House. Obama’s rise to the presidency will be studied for years to come as the textbook example of a new kind of electioneering driven by people and technology.