DNA09: Who made Obama President – More the candidate than the campaign?

Much has been made of Barack Obama’s use of new media to mobilise voters and generate microdonations to support his presidential campaign.

Speaking at today’s Digital News Affairs 2009 (DNA) Jodi Williams, press lead for the Obama Campaign, explained the team’s use of the internet as a tool to connect people ‘who otherwise wouldn’t have been connected’.

This meant building a presence for Obama on social networks, coordinating online donation schemes and collecting information on potential voters so that directions to polling stations and offers of transport could be made via text on voting day.

Many of the techniques could be applied to Europe for candidates in the forthcoming European Parliament elections, particularly because of deeper broadband presentation, added Williams.

Really? Could Obama’s campaign have been as successful without that key component – the candidate himself. Is there anyone in European politics who inspires the same debate/feeling/mass participation?

Fortunately Stephen Clark, representing the European Parliament on the panel, conceded this point:

“It can’t be denied that it [Obama’s campaign] was about candidate and political situation at that time.

“It’s very difficult to find a political figure known across Europe. In a parliamentary system perhaps the issues are the way to go.”

One thought on “DNA09: Who made Obama President – More the candidate than the campaign?

  1. Edial Dekker

    Stephen Clark (European Parliament) also mentioned two other reasons why social media might not work as good as in the Unites States;

    1. There are more than just a pair of parties in Europe, but this might not effect the UK as much as it does to the EU parliament, or The Netherlands for example (where we have more than fifteen political parties).

    2. There is not (slightly) as much money for campaigns as there is in the US. If you want conversations with as many people, you will need a LOT of people that are willing to contribute.

    And there is another thing that is different; in the US, people give money to the campaigns, therefore they become ‘part’ of the campaign on a very personal level. In Europe this is different, people are not as much involved as they are in the US. Ooh, and the period of time of the campaign also plays a major roll in the campaign management.

    Personally I think the many social networks Europe counts, might also be an issue for one platform where people connect and become part of the ‘change’.

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