Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Fat Lady Sings

When Arianna Huffington announced "I'm Ready to Declare a Winner in the 2008 Race" the day before the election, she picked "The Internet" as the champion emerging from the race.

Certainly the winning candidate Barack Obama was a savvy user of social media. Just about every important campaign event used distributed electronic media, including the YouTube video explaining his decision to reject public financing, his text message about his vice presidential choice, and his e-mail that he released to his supporters just in advance of his victory speech. Furthermore, he used the Internet to do more than merely reaching younger voters, because computational media and online appeals were also important for other interest groups, especially Latinos, who turned out in record numbers.

In comparison, the McCain campaign looked like a relatively weak performer with gimmicky online stunts rather than a sustained web presence from McCain Space (check out this scary video for a sample) to Pork Invaders. Viral e-mails from supporters spewing xenophobic and racist messages soon were as obviously out of the control of the campaign as those uncouth supporters shouting out comments during McCain's eloquent concession speech.

It seemed that the Obama campaign managed to learn from the 2004 Palm Pilot fiasco that novel software or the highest tech equipment can do little to win elections. By using relatively simple means to transmit messages on multiple platforms, the Obama campaign ran a very successful get-out-the-vote effort.

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