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Politics And Social Media - How the Democratic Party Won in 08'
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Politics And Social Media - How the Democratic Party Won in 08'



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  • Howard Dean mobilized thousands of people to take action and donate to his campaign online. His main organizing tool was Meetup.com, where people all over the country came together to support his campaign. He was the first political candidate in American politics to primarily fund his campaign from small donations online. He created a fundraising model Obama for America utilized that was key to Obama’s success. Even though his run up to the Iowa Caucuses was a brief moment in politics he dramatically changed how campaigns organized people and raised money.
  • Up until 04’ Clinton Democrats had only been organizing and talking with democrats in 60%+ dpi precincts across the country. A significant base of the Democratic party, therefore, was not being engaged. The base took back the party by organizing themselves online through sites like Meetup.com and MoveOn.org. Also, the political blogosphere provided a message mouthpiece that spoke directly to the base. These online communities eventually moved offline into action for the Kerry campaign. Democratic parties all over the country were revitalized and ready for the next big change. Howard Dean became Chair of the Democratic National Committee and he focused on organizing each state and creating a centralized data structure.
  • From 02’ on the Voter Activation Network was being used as a centralized database of voter information that was eventually shared with campaigns all up and down the ticket in 08’. America Coming Together and America Votes contributed data to it, as well as state parties and the DNC. Having a history of reliable data created a foundation of knowledge for the party and candidates to engage their base around and deliver more strategic messages to groups of people.
  • The Obama for America campaign in 08’was poised to harness these resources and the grassroots networks that had begun forming in 04’. In order to win the campaign adhered to a strategic plan & their small donor fundraising strategy. They spent between $650 - $680 Million total on the race.
  • Chris Huges, the co-Founder of Facebook, joined the campaign & created a social networking tool that helped mobilize supporters to talk with their neighbors about the campaign.
  • Built into the site was the ability to track the work people were doing to get people out to the polls. The results of phone surveys and door knocks went directly back into the database.
  • The campaign’s recipe for success: Tools=Online tools like MyBarackObama.com that created a conversation with their supporters and contained organizing tools to win. Materials=The message. Labor=A huge sea of dedicated people who did the work for the campaign to get to people to vote & spread Obama’s brand and message.
  • The campaign also experimented with emerging technology to reach more people. When a user clicked on ‘Call Friends’ the app organized the users phone book via targeted states. Once the call was over the user could input their contacts response & it went directly into the database.
  • These ads ran in targeted states on Xbox 360 Live. Why they were beneficial was because they started a conversation amongst the users and in the gamer blogosphere.
  • This is a series of interviews with Ellison’s colleagues on the House Floor.
  • He began engaging people on twitter.
  • Integrating these tools into a strong strategy is changing how campaigns work and how elected officials are communicating with the American public. Their conversations with the public are happening in real time and equipping their supporters with the messages they want to communicate. Perhaps these conversations back and forth are changing how the system operates.


  • 1.     Politics and Social Media Sarah Burt  @4th_Sector @iBurt [email_address]
  • 2. The Dean Scream
  • 3. The Dean Scream
    • 2004
    •          People Online                                                Action
      • Meetups - Neighbors Meeting Neighbors
      • Move On 
      • Blogging - Daily Kos
  • 4. Data Data Data
      • Centralized Database - the Voter Activation Network
      • Around Since 02’
      • State Parties Contributes to It
      • What's In It?  
        • Public data from the SOS.
        • Responses from past surveys.
        • Marketing Data.
        • Contribution Data.
        • Likely Party Score.
  • 5.  
  • 6. Mountain of Data+Strategic Objectives*
      • Didn't concede any states. 
      • Solidify Wins in Key States: Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Florida.
      • Top priorities in battleground states
        • Voter Registration
        • Helping elect Democrats down the ballot
        • Build grassroots organization in every state
      • Stick with issue spots vs McCain’s attack spots. Install confidence within the people. Use attack spots only in states with very small margins.
      • Focus on small donations.  
    • Media Price Tag:  427.6 Million 
    •   http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/expend.php?cycle=2008&cid=n00009638
    • *http://www.slideshare.net/socialmedia8/case-study-the-barack-obama-strategy?src=embed
  • 7. What can you do with all that money?
    • Chris Hughes, co-Founder of Facebook
  • 8. MyBarackObama.com
    • Talk with your neighbors, make sure they're registered, get them out to vote.
  • 9. Tools + Materials + Labor = Success
  • 10. What Does Interactive Success Look Like?
      • 2 million profiles were created
      • In addition, 200,000 offline events were planned
      • About 400,000 blog posts were written
      • more than 35,000 volunteer groups were
    •      created - at least 1,000 of them on Feb. 10, 2007,      the day Obama announced his candidacy.
    • Source: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/11/20/obama_raised_half_a_billion_on.html
  • 11. Experimented with Emerging Technology
  • 12. Social Media was a tool to create action & conversation on the campaign. 
  • 13. Question:  How did this kind of marketing potentially benefit Obama's Brand?
  • 14. So You Got Elected! What Next?
    • Shift from talking about what you want to do when elected, to what you are doing. 
    • Relate the District to home district. 
    • Incorporate feedback from the district into decisions in DC.
  • 15. You Get a Flip Camera.
    • Ellison Interviews Colleagues on House Floor
    • 6/19/09
  • 16. You Start Tweeting
  • 17. Twitter Strategy
      • Conveys his personality; introduces people to him.
      • He uses it to engage his constituents and ask questions.
      • He tweets to raise awareness around the issues he's a leader on.
  • 18.