Notes on Obama’s election campaign

[Last week, Australia’s Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner wrote about Government 2.0 in The government wants to blog. Later today ABC Radio wants me to talk about how Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign used social media and social networking, so I’ve been reviewing my liveblog of the presentations made by Ben Self at Media 09 and Joe Trippi at the Microsoft Politics and Technology Forum. Trippi has worked on various Democrat campaigns including as campaign manager for Howard Dean‘s 2004 unsuccessful presidential nomination campaign. Self’s company Blue State Digital managed Obama’s online fundraising, constituency-building, issue advocacy, and peer-to-peer online networking during the primaries. I figured I might as well share my notes. Enjoy.]

More than two years since Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign, the numbers are still staggering. $770 million was raised, roughly 65% of that online. There were 3.2 million individual donors, with the average donation under $100.

This is completely different from traditional political fundraising, which revolved about dinners and other events costing $2300 a ticket — the maximum unreportable donation donation allowable from a couple at that time under US electoral laws. Obama’s campaign really did reach out and mobilise millions of ordinary Americans.

Yes, millions. The progressive Democratic Party network is now 15 million people online.

Online social networking tools made all this possible, sure, but the success came through the clever application of those tools. The key word here is “personal”.

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Episode 39 is online, with a gnome

Screenshot from Stilgherrian Live episode 39

Episode 39 of Stilgherrian Live is now online for your post-facto viewing pleasure.

After so many fine nominations for “Cnut of the Week” it was difficult to pick a shortlist, but I applied my arbitrary judgement and narrowed it down to: Peter Costello (final score 8%) for refusing to understand that he is yesterday’s man; rugby player Brett Stewart (11%), recently accused of sexual assault; rugby players in general (36%); and our winner, Anna Bligh (44%), whose political campaign website for the Premiership of Queensland doesn’t list an email address or even a contact form, and who uses Twitter but doesn’t respond in any way.

You’d think that after the success of Barack Obama’s online campaigning, they’d get themselves some sort of clue — especially given the string of Obama advisers giving speeches here recently like Ben Self and Joe Trippi. But no.

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Live Blog: Politics & Technology Forum 2009

Photograph of Joe Trippi

This Thursday 26 February I’m liveblogging from Microsoft’s second Politics and Technology Forum in Canberra. This year’s theme is “Campaigning Online”.

Keynote speaker is Joe Trippi (pictured), heralded as the man who reinvented political campaigning thanks to his work on many US campaigns for the Democrats, and author of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet and the Overthrow of Everything. He’s also a political analyst with MSNBC and much more, as his Wikipedia entry or Twitter stream reveal.

The political panellists are federal Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull (who tweets as @TurnbullMalcolm) and Labor’s Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, who’s been pushing for better government use of technology for some time.

Our MC is Mark Pesce, who himself has covered similar topics in presentations like Hyperpolitics, American Style.

Bookmark this page, ‘cos the liveblog will start here at around 8.45am Canberra time on 26 February.

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