Frontrunner or Inherently a tool of insurgent

In the case of a frontrunner candidate could successfully use the Internet or is it inherently a tool of insurgent candidates, I believe he/she must use it because there is no way a campaign will move a step forward without the Internet. It is proved from 2008 election where many fundraising, micro targeting and grassroots organizing have taken place online. Therefore Internet is no longer a tool for outside candidates, it is for both frontrunners and insurgent candidates.

Howard Dean introduced a very important tool to the political campaign arena, the Internet. Politics have changed since then. Political campaigns strategies have developed and included the Internet in its components. As we have seen in this election that Internet was taking a big share of the campaigns and many mainstream media talked about it and covered what had happened online.

Internet has become the power of democracy, the power is in the hand of voters who donate the $5 or $10, not the big wallets who fund 75% of the campaigns, Joe Trippi said in this book the Revolution Will Not Be Televised, “Power is back in our hands”. This means that democracy is implemented through the Internet.

Though big money will still have its role in 2012 race to set the engine for the online but their influence will diminish in the future because the online campaign will part if not dominate the campaign itself. We will see in the near future that big dollars and small online donation will have an equal role in political campaigns. 

Joe Trippi sums up in his book what has happened in this election and gave us a good background of what happened in Dean’s campaign. The Dean campaign and Obama campaign have opened the Internet to frontrunners. Both Dean and Obama were able to reach voters through Internet. Obama has pushed to the second level; he empowered millions of ordinary people to take over his campaign and decided what to do for the future of the country “Change”. Sen. Clinton didn’t take Trippi’s advice to run as “a Change Candidate” and she took lobbyist’s money. Definitely, Trippi was reading the future.

The success of Dean and Obama will be the reason for candidates using the Internet and the increase of online campaigns. Both Obama and Dean were able to organize groups through meetup.com and mybarackobama. Moreover, they raised a lot of money through online donations.  Insurgent candidates and frontrunner candidates will use the Internet in their campaigns. Both will have a better Internet future with all the development and organization.

Obama taught us a very good lesson in 2008 election. He was the first one who used the Internet as a frontrunner and used it effectively as a campaign tool because young generation is more into high-tech than the older one. The question to me is, does technology is enough to make voters decide right? I think it is not enough, connection, inspiration and leadership may not be sensed through technology. In this case, we really need balance between digital campaign and on ground campaign.

 

December 3, 2008 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

The 2008 Campaign Reflections

 The 2008 Presidential campaign was a historical and a revolutionary one in all its aspects. After a long history of discrimination and civil rights movement, The US has written the new chapter of its story, the story of nothing is impossible in this nation.

 

Looking back into the primaries, it was a distinguished moment to see the democrats to choose a first lady and an African American to run to the most important position in the World. Voters didn’t care of the experience or the background of their candidates; they were looking for change, change that will move the path of their nation into a different level. On the other side of the coin, Republican moved outside their crystal ball and chose the first  female to be their Vice president nominee.

However, many new developments were taking place in this election, the technology became the message and the medium as Garrett Gaff said in his book The First Campaign.

Many lessons we learned during this election. Online fundraising that Obama campaign has developed. He has set the rules when he succeeded to raise half billion USD from small donation that came from public, lobbyists were out and failed to influence this race. Online Funding has turned to be the new method of political campaigning in the US.

New media have stepped in and took their share of the market. Reporting and analyzing what happened in and behind the scenes. It demonstrated that it could be the alternative to the mainstream media even many would argue this point. Yet, no one could ignore its existence anymore

Moreover, YouTube has played a huge role in the 2008 race. It was the medium for many generated voter content. Many personal initiatives were presented in the YouTube. Thousands of online videos were broadcasted. YouTube and was verified the medium of the citizen democracy.

Micro-targeting was the tactic to win this election. It was unbelievable to find out how consuming habit data could be turned into a political equation and then a strategy to get voters to polls. Many didn’t think that what we like or hate are essential to political strategists and election.

It was unexpected to see battleground states voted earlier. The early voting helped to tide polls to Obama’s advantage.

A lot of funny of human and sad moment accompanied this election. Tina Fey’s show, Saturday night shows and racism incidents in certain states were there. Many accusations and negative campaigning that made people laugh and upset.

In the past, many younger voters turned their backs to elections for many years. However, this election was different. Facebook, election.twitter.com and other social networks made them come back and were part of it. Young voters were active and engaged in expressing their feelings and their views. The social networks turn the American election into an international one. Facebook moved the American election from a national one into an international one.  All the International Facebookers participated in it.

November 4th, this day was a historical day. In Washington, Americans and Internationals ran to the street and marched to the White House, crying hugging and celebrating. John McCain’s speech was the best speech ever. We had nothing but to respect Sen. McCain as warrior who fought for his country and put the US first. Whether we agree with him or not, his pledged to serve his country deserved our admiration. We will always remember the email we received from Obama before he addressed the nation in Grant Park, thanking everyone for his/her contribution. It was a very touching email that made supporters feel special and the victory was not President Elect Obama but theirs.

Definitely, there are many memorable events and moments for us to keep observing till 2012 election.

 

 

November 24, 2008 at 5:43 pm Leave a comment

The Arab World Elects Obama

The weekend after the Election Day I ended up at a party arranged by an Arab Bureau Chief of one of the elite international networks. Many familiar faces were there: famous analysts, anchors from different networks, print correspondents and broadcasters from all over the Arab World. The occasion was to celebrate the victory of President Elect Obama. It is weird to see Arabs happy and excited about a leader, I guess because he is not one of the leaders we have back home. I guess we will never see a celebration like that in the Arab World soon for reasons that we all know.

 Someone screamed from behind, a glass of wine in his hand, “He made it, everyone including me thought this country will never elect a black president.” A Lebanese women replied, “Well, he had a good campaign and wired staff, don’t you agree.” Here, I had to jump in and speak because I was more confident of the knowledge I learned from my class and said, “Yes, indeed. We, in the class, followed this campaign online.” I paused figuring out the second sentence and said.” It was different and had a different taste to see what Obama did over the Internet.”

A man in his late sixties asked me what I meant. I said to myself it is my chance to sound smart and try to find a job or an internship in one of these networks. I said to him how the social networks such as Facebook and Twitter were active among voters conveying their views during the debates and on Election Day. “Twitter, for instance, is a social network which is banned by many Arab regimes and used by civil activists in Egypt to keep what is called ‘spreading democracy’,” I said. “Twitter had set a page ‘election.twitter.com’ to allow voters during the debates to tweet what they think. The amazing point is in almost every second a new message was posted and I had the chance to observe what voters thought of the debate.”

Then I moved to bloggers and explained how they were engaged in analyzing and stating their views and how the American mainstream media used to host them all the time. The man couldn’t believe that social networks were involved in the process. I understand his disbelief. Social networks in the Arab world are used either for human rights activities or matchmaking among the boys and girls.

 “Abu Hussein”, or the Father of Hussein is the name many Arabs call President-Elect Obama. People were following the election because we are involved in politics more than any other nation and because of networks, which still dominate the media scene in the Arab world. In addition to that, the American election has a direct impact on our region. Nonetheless, the social networks such as Facebook, which has become so popular among young Arabs made them more involved in the process of expressing their ideas and views. Facebook was the platform that provided the opportunity to exchange comments, free ideas and feelings that many Arab parliaments and national councils do not provide. For that reason, many Arab regimes are struggling with this new concept of “social networks” and think that it is a threat to their security and their power.

A journalist from an interesting country, whose Internet is monitored by their regime, said to me, “But after eight years of Bush Administration, that produced of a negative image of Americans around the World, Iraq war, economic crisis and many other issues are the reasons behind Obama’s success. The Internet is useless in these circumstances.”

I looked at him and I was shocked at the last sentence, “Internet is useless”. All that he said about the war and economic crisis was true and they were the reason behind Obama winning. However, what this campaign did over the Internet and what I witnessed among the young Arabs, who have a Facebook page, is a revolution to me, because I have not seen that before. Obama’s campaign succeeded in moving social networks from matchmaking Websites to political ones in the Arab world. Through the Internet, we became more involved and can see other things. Internet is not useless. Actually, he is useless.

The Obama campaign was able to move the election overseas through online campaigning. Many of my friends back home, were surprised when they heard how the Obama campaign sent text-messages to his supporters for big announcements. Back home, cell phones are used for sending silly jokes and love notes.

I said to the man who thought Internet is useless, “just imagine you had freedom and democracy back home and the “X” leader sent you an email before he headed to address your nation, like Obama did when he sent his email before speaking in Grant Park, what would you feel?” He Said, “I feel I did him a favor but how can he get my email address?” I said, “ You need to learn about Digital campaigns and Internet.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 24, 2008 at 12:55 am Leave a comment

The White House Opens Its Gate

It is not expected to see radical changes in the While House 02. Don’t think you will be able to set your web camera and meet over the Internet the President or any of his senior staff. However, there will be obvious developments in the White House  online operations as President Elect Obama promised.

The US is facing many challenges such as the economic crisis, energy and two wars in the Middle East. Therefore, President Elect Obama wants to engage Americans more in the political process since his mission is very difficult.

President Elect Obama has promised that he will open the door of democracy again, and encourage people to involve in the government. Definitely the citizen democracy that we saw during election will continue in the new administration.

Change.gov is a very important beginning to predict what is going to happen in the White House 02. Change.gov is a well designed website, it provides services to people such as news update, job opportunities and many other classic activities. Yet, the distinguished service is “share your story”.  This particular service is important to predicate what Obama’s administration is trying to do to move the government not only the White House into the second level. There might be a kind of communication tool between people and their administration, but it is worth it to wait and find out.

President Elect Obama will be addressing his message so easily without going to the mainstream media. He will be in contact with millions of American through the YouTube. For example, the weekly radio message that is established by President Reagan has lost it listeners. President Elect Obama will take this tradition into the second level to enter the 21st century. He will be addressing people through YouTube and online video.

Co-Chair of the Obama transitions team, Valerie Jarrett has also posted a clip informing viewers on the transition progress.  She also talks about some of the major changes that have already occurred, such as Obama selecting Rahm Emanuel to be his Chief of Staff. Change.gov might be the platform of secretaries to talk about their plans and policies to give the people the same feeling they got from Obama, the sense of personal campaigning.

I would like to attend staff meetings and find out how they proceed and make their decision like what is happening in the transition process.

Definitely, there will see major expansion in the While House communication operations that allow the President Elect Obama to reach all over the US. There is a huge gap between Obama Campaign and what they have done in 21 months and the Bush Administration. They have achieved in less than two years what Bush didn’t achieve in eight years. There is a gap between Obama’s Team and the government, therefore, Obama Administration will push the government tech-infrastructure forward.

November 19, 2008 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Tell Me Who You Are, I Tell You Who You Vote For

 

Duane Hoffmann / MSNBC illustrations

Duane Hoffmann / MSNBC illustrations

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazingly, how simple information can do, it can send to the Oval Office

Moms for Obama, Jews for Obama and many other groups held their signs in most of President Elect Obama’s rallies. It was the first race to witness such an obvious categorization. Apparently, Obama campaign has stepped further and moves the micro-targeting of President George W Bush and Clinton way ahead. 

Obama campaign didn’t succeed in gathering people under what they had in common and shared but created inside them the well to vote for President Elect Obama, as they knew how to target them. His campaign was involved in voters’ personal interests or in other word in their life. The issue is not only “give me your cell phone and I will tell you who is my Vice President”, it is in their ability to know what you like or don’t like, to get involve inside and direct you to what they wanted to achieve “voting for Obama”. Datamining, which is usually used by Business intelligence organizations and financial strategists were able to generate and sort data that might be unimportant to you, however, helped Obama campaign to cast your vote to his advantage. This information may include everything you expect and not expect, from what football-team do you like to what TV Channel you Watch.

Indeed, the micro-targeting mechanism was the passport to get Obama’s message out to his targeted voters. Moreover, the message addressed was formed to satisfy the targeted voters, what they wanted to hear, regardless to the capability of achieving what is in the message included “the promise”.

George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004 because his campaign succeeded to use the Micro-targeting tool. For instance, they conducted a research and a strategy to reach to center right voters. They were able to find out that Center right voters did not trust traditional media networks, therefore, Bush campaign had to reach them by using different media tools. The advance step in 2008 election is mybarackobama.com. This engine was able to gather, sort and drag the voters to Obama’s side. Obama Campaign has arranged comprehensive and extensive efforts to enable them to focus on the objected voters, in addition to the addressed message, which became a tool at this case. Message (tool) was designed to the right segment of voters to drag them to the polls. Voters heard what they wanted to hear without recognizing that Obama campaign has invaded their personal life through datamining and micro-targeting.

Using subscription data, shopping habits or maybe knowing your favorite food may not be important to many of us, nonetheless, it is very fundamental to political campaign. Campaigns’ strategists will not look at these data as simple as they might seem to be, yet these data are essential and strategists will look at them theoretically. It seems that these data are part of a calculation, x and Y can be over the candidate A. To them this information is voters.

Voters are inviting campaigns to their homes, which is scary to all of us. However, did any of us ask the question about these messages that were sent by Obama. In other words, can Obama achieve what he said in his rallies or it is just messages and promises that voters wanted to hear because his campaign knows much about us?  

Micro-targeting is privacy invasion and there is a possibility that voters were dragged to vote without asking and analyzing the How and Why.

 

November 12, 2008 at 9:13 pm Leave a comment

Yes, Last Night Was Historical.

Last night was the Democratic night and The US celebrated.

I failed to find a party to experience my first election in the US. Therefore, I decided to spend it at home. I prepared a traditional dish, opened a bottle of wine and had my laptop set on Twitter and various blogs in addition to flipping from one channel to another monitoring and observing. The best part for me was to see and hear the tone of Fox news. It was calm, sad and close to what we call in journalism, “fair coverage.” The negative ads disappeared; there was no Sean Hannity or O’Reilly, it was real journalism coverage stating facts and figures. CNN was busy showing their technological abilities and how their magic board works.

Facebook and Twitter astonished me in this big day. Facebook made the American election an international one. Friends from all over the world were engaged and enthusiastic about this election. Election.twitter.com was so active and tweeting among voters, stating their comments on the process and reporting “I voted McCain”, “I voted Obama” and the reason behind their votes.

Announcements and projections started, Ohio voted Obama and my phone beeped. My friend from the Syrian Embassy said “Game is over”, another beep from Canada, my cousin saying “Congrats! We are celebrating here in Canada. Go Obama Go”. I could not wait when I heard all these noises outside, I ran out to U Street and I observed more. Black, white, Hispanic, young, old, gay, straight, all are under one flag, the American flag, marching towards the White House, screaming “Obama”. At that moment, my mind flashed back and realized how many flags we have in the Arab world. I remembered our “election”, people have to vote for one candidate, must march or they will end in security departments and the candidate has to win 99% “no matter what”. 

November 5, 2008 at 6:54 pm Leave a comment

Virtual Voting

“You can’t get more American than that”, my boyfriend’s classmate said to me yesterday.  “You are in a bar on a Monday night, watching a football game, eating Buffalo wings, french-fries and having a beer. “ He continued, “Oh, did you drive your pickup truck here?” pointing out.  Well, that’s true, what he said is all American. However, what is more American to me is today November the 4th–Election Day.

I woke up in the morning and ran to the TV and my computer, set myself up to follow the news and write my assignment for tomorrow’s class. It was not surprising to see all the networks’ coverage, moving from one state to another and from one county to another in the swing states. The same story is on the online coverage. However, what was different is Facebook. I wanted to sign in and on the home page was a big announcement, “Today is the Election day, GO VOTE”. I signed in and the surprise was my friends’ comments. Most of them are not American so let me list a few countries: Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Italy, Canada and others. Their comments were amazing, for instance, a Syrian friend said “YES WE CAN”, another from Jordan said, “Today is the Election day, go vote for Obama”, a friend from Saudi Arabia said, “Abyia is praying for Obama”.

I called my parents back home who have been involved in politics since they were born. I talked to dad asking what is he doing and the answer was expected: he was watching Aljazeera following the election news. He paused and said, “Obama has to win Florida or Ohio. In this case the election will be over”. I laughed and said to myself, would an American know about the Arab politics and what is actually happening over there more than he or she reads or watches over cable? I guess the answer is NO.

After half an hour, my cell phone beeped, a text message from my boyfriend asking me to grab a box for him. On the way down, I saw his neighbor and of course he smiled like all Americans. I asked him “did you vote?” He answered,  “Yes, did you?” I said, “No, I am not American”.  Here, I remembered Facebook and my friends’ comments.  I responded, “We are voting spiritually and virtually”. He looked at me and I could tell he is saying to himself, she must be an idiot. Well, in our part of the world, we lack democracy and don’t vote because our leaders stay as presidents and kings forever.  However, my Arab friends on Facebook have the chance to participate in an election that is not for our countries but definitely has an impact on our daily life and our region.

With tears in my eyes I say, go vote for you and for us.

November 4, 2008 at 8:29 pm Leave a comment

It Is Still Foot Soldiers and Grunt Work.

The 2008 election is unique in all aspects. It is the first election in American history with an African American nominee and also there is the possibility of the first woman as a vice-president. Regardless of gender and race, people are more interested in this election for its keyboard activities and how both campaigns are battling online to get as many voters as they can.

Both campaigns are serious in their effort to reach voters through social networks, YouTube and others Internet technologies. Analysts have stated that the Obama campaign is more successful than McCain especially when it comes into online activities. Surprisingly, if you go to John McCain’s website, you can play “Pork Invaders” and you can have the application on your Facebook page. It includes a message about extravagant government spending. On the other hand, if you want to play online Incredible Hulk, you will see Obama’s ads. The average 18 to 35-year old is hard to reach through TV, therefore, a successful tactic has been to reach them through these video games.

The usage of the Internet from the two campaigns has been for one purpose, which is to influence and reach potential voters. This presidential election is considered to be the most expensive race and candidates are using online fundraising to generate more money and voters. Sen. Obama has succeeded in raising hundreds of millions, however, most of his funds are spent to advertise in the traditional media and to fund his ground campaign.

There is a popular perception that Obama is winning the election because of his mastery of the digital domain. He has mybarackobama, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google’s support, his website attracts three times as many hits as McCain’s.

But for all his success of creating buzz and raising money online, there are very traditional forces working in his favor. The US is facing one of the biggest economic crises and it is different from that in the Great Depression because this crisis has consequences that are affecting the global world.

Historically, whenever the election’s central issue is the economy, Democrats win. If the focus of this election is national security and there were different circumstances, Republicans will have the advantage. The process is not in social networks or online games, it is about the general notion of what the country is facing from political and economical aspects and the general circumstances of the majority of voters who decide what is the best for them. It is unquestionable that what is happening on the Internet is now part of the election but it is very difficult to prove that it has a substantial effect on the final results.

If Obama wins, everyone who believes in new media will say it was the Internet, but there is no way to prove that–elections are still won by getting more votes, not more blog posts or donations. Blogs, online games, social networks don’t get people to the polls to vote, field campaigns do, and while technology helps, it is still foot soldiers and grunt work—along with a winning candidate with a winning message.

 

 

 

 

November 3, 2008 at 8:32 pm Leave a comment

Broadcast Yourself The Presidential Election

YouTube encourages voters to take camcorders to videotape their polls’ experience. Lately, It has launched videoyourvote, it aims to document the enthusiasm, last minute campaigning as well as problems that may happen on Nov 4th. This illustrates that citizen journalism has become a main player in the political arena. Actually, this election is known to be the election of citizen documentation.

A few days ago, TechPresident has published an article on “How Much is YouTube Worth to Obama and McCain? “. YouTube was worth to a presidential election and the figures predicate the result of this race. TechPresident stated that “The total in absolute time (views * video length): Obama 14,548,809.05 hours; McCain 488,093.01 hours”.

Over 14 million free video-hours and over $45 million spent on paid advertisement for Sen. Obama. At this final phase, we can say Obama campaign has succeeded in reaching new voters and turning red states to blue one. They used every possible way online off line to energize the base.


“Yes We Can” is a well-done video, it has a great content and most importantly it is a vote-generated one. Obama has succeeded to build a solid supporting base and incenting people and independent organizations to believe in his promise. Interestingly, this video was not broadcasted through the mainstream media, it was on YouTube. This organization didn’t have to buy minutes in any network, it was broadcasted for free on YouTube and succeeded to reach 10,798,714 viewers. Networks and TV stations are facing difficulties in reaching advertisers and audience because of the online movement.

On the other hand, McCain campaign is short of funds, don’t have a clear message and they didn’t take the advantage of free media. With no promise, no bargain and most importantly no tools, we can say game is over.

October 29, 2008 at 1:31 pm Leave a comment

Message vis-à-vis Technology

The 2008 Election is highly driven by online tools. Bloggers, YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and others are making analysts and journalists focus on and praise their influence on this race.

The use of online campaigning by the Obama Campaign has become an illustration of how to structure a successful campaign in the US. Moreover, others believe that it is the reason why Obama is winning. Howard Dean is being credited for laying the groundwork for online campaigning. Nowadays, it is the topic to talk about: Obama and fate of the Dean Campaign who failed to win the primary election. Is Obama winning because of the Internet or because of his substance/message?

Indeed, Howard Dean was the first candidate who built a political machine to gather average Americans and bring them together in Internet-generated “meet ups”. He urged supporters to stay connected, to get involved and contribute. He also succeeded raising phenomenal amounts of money through his online fundraising engine. Nevertheless, he lost the primary in 2004. Did his message keep the voters connected and involved? Was the substance of his message strong enough to get new voters in other states such as Illinois? The answer is NO.

Howard Dean was angry and frustrated all the time at the war in Iraq. His main tack was to criticize President Bush. He was stuck in the past and talking about what had happened and the consequences of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq.

Instead, John Kerry, for instance, who voted to authorize the war, defined his position in a more nuanced way, arguing that Bush failed in handling the war. Rather than appeal to the hard left of the Democratic base, he took a more moderate approach.

At that time, Democratic analysts argued that Republicans do a better job handling national security, for that reason, all Democratic candidates should focus on job and health care issues where they have the advantage.

In addition, Dean didn’t look presidential to many voters, he was blunt and many thought he was rude. Whenever he was criticized by the mainstream media and by his fellow candidates, his campaign jumped to send urgent emails to his supporters to donate money, without recognizing that their campaign lacked a clear message, or the fact that the criticisms might have been true.

Definitely, Dean energized many Democratic voters with his sharp message against President Bush and he demonstrated the ability of Internet to gather thousands of people and raise money but these accomplishments were not enough to win. Despite being more popular, Dean failed to build a strong field campaign, and had difficulty persuading voters outside his base. John Kerry focused on building a massive, and experienced ground campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. Plus, Kerry came across as the candidate who could win the general election, and that was a critical concern for primary voters.

Despite all the hype and the massive lead in pre-primary polls, Dean lost. His campaign focused too much on technology and media (especially free media) and not enough on substance and the traditional mechanics of a campaign. At the end of the day, Dean was a flawed candidate running a flawed campaign, and no amount of Internet buzz could change that.

Today, people are attributing too much on technology and not enough to substance or message. Again, Obama is winning because of his narrative and his message that is resonating with voters–not because of the Internet but with the help of the Internet, he is managing to reach as many voters as possible. Small online donations have been able to gather millions of dollars. But, he has also focused on the traditional aspects of field operations. All these are components of good campaign.

Yet, polls are close and we don’t know who will win. It is interesting to live this historical election. An African American is running against a white candidate in a time the US faces its worst economic crisis in generations, two wars in the Middle East, a bad image in the world, and the online role in politics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 24, 2008 at 1:55 am Leave a comment

It’s All About the $!

For the first time in the U.S. history, the candidates for president have raised over $1 billion. The Obama campaign raised over $600 million since the race started. Indeed, the Democratic Party is making history.

In 2008, Obama has proved to be the most successful presidential candidate in terms of fundraising and attracting new donors. Obama built a strong fundraising machine that attracts big and small donors. He made it easy for those who are hooked to their wireless and cell phones. Online social networks, text-message updates in addition to regular gentle emails from the campaign’s managers encouraging people to donate, are a few tools of Obama’s online fundraising.

At the same time, Obama Campaign worked on attracting large donations. According to OpenSecrets.org, they stated that Obama’s fundraising is coming from on small online donation as well as bigger donors. They think that he relies on both almost equally.

Obama has built a network of big-dollar supporters since the beginning of his political life. He counted on corporate to help raising $300 million for the general election campaign and another $180 million from the Democratic National Committee. It looks that big shares of Obama’s donations are coming from the big donors, though there is a new extraordinary kind of fundraising such as the online fundraising, however, the old fashion donors still exist and are playing a critical role in the presidential campaigns.

Apparently, there is a big change in 2008 race in that democrats are not benefitting from the current wars but also the Howard Dean inspired technique of fundraising.  Small donations from individuals who have never donated before have been a critical source of support for the nominee. Yet, small donations are not enough to rely on, if $480 million are coming from big donors that means more than 75% of the total funds raised.

Plus, it is important to point out two facts. One is that it takes 460 donations of $5 dollars to equal what one big donor can give at one time per cycle—and it takes 1000 $5 donations to equal one PAC contribution. The second point is that while the Internet has made it much easier for people to donate money, many Obama donors are so motivated that they would give no matter what. So, for some donors the Internet is the reason they are donating, for others it is simply the vehicle.

At the rate of $5 million per day, with remaining two weeks to the race, Sen. Obama’s fundraising activities are finished according to his campaign’s spokesperson. They say the campaign will rely on Internet donations for the remainder of the campaign. Obama’s Campaign did not release any details of the source of September contribution but they announced that the campaign added 632,000 new donors.

On the right, McCain complained that Obama did not report on the source of $200 million in donations. He said that there are no records for these millions and questioned the Obama campaign’s fundraising activities. Though Republican strategists scrambled with the fact of Obama fundraised 150 million in September, they didn’t hesitate to accuse Obama of buying the presidency and hinting that Obama is taking foreign contributions. These are new challenges to Obama’s campaign at this very final phase.

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean had raised a phenomenal amount of money; he made history for political campaign fundraising. Obama understood this value of Internet fundraising that was an evident in the 2004 election. If Obama wins this election, there will be a strong voice stating that Obama’s success is coming from his charisma, political persona joined with the effective Internet fundraising.

Nevertheless, major donors will remain in the 2012 Election and beyond. They are the starting point for all campaigns, and unless Congress changes campaign finance laws, candidates will still focus much of their energy on courting people who can write $4600 checks—let alone $28,500 checks to the national parties.

 

October 21, 2008 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment

Voter-Generated Content

Previously, Politicians and political organizations were in charge of their message and they decide when and what to speak to the public and the press. They were in control of their brand. Not any more.

Voter-generated content is taking a very leading step in this election especially with bloggers’ movement social networks and online video sites. YouTube, Myspace Democrats group, Digg.com and others are playing participating in influencing the voter’s decisions. When Robert Scoble, a leading technology blogger was invited by John Edward campaign, he said that candidates are in charge of the election and people can post a video that might change the results of the election. This video can find its way through the social media.

That is so true.

Barack Obama – Change The World (Apple Ad)

This is a video is intended to support Barack Obama as one of Apple’s “Crazy Ones”. It is independent endorsement. Vote CHANGE! Vote Obama

 

John.He.Is

McCain’s position from the war, voters can judge and make their own choice.

 

John McCain campaign song.

 

Obama products are everywhere; buying one his product is donating to his campaign. May well-known designers are supporting the concept of change that Obama’s Launched.  http://www.cafepress.com/iloveobama08.213652167

Shop Obama http://www.superobama.com/ Or McCain http://www.joinmccainshop.com/

 This article by Sasha Issenberg, Boston Globe may explain more. http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2008/articles/2008/08/17/obama_themed_merchandise_sales_strike_it_hot/

October 14, 2008 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

Left Versus Right, What Makes Sense?

There is no fundamental distinction between Huffington Post and Hugh Hewitt Town Hall blogs’ coverage. All discussed the same topics but differed strongly in the argument. Hence, the question is what makes sense to the readers? Which one conveys the facts and meets journalistic standards?

 Turning to the right direction.

 McCain Accusation in advance the second debate.

Hours before the second presidential debate, Bill Dyer posted an article talking about Obama’s support of releasing 17 Chinese Muslims captured in terrorists training campus. McCain Campaign’s accusations started a few days after the VP debate as polls illustrated the lead of Obama and McCain falling behind in swing states http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog/g/bd667f9e-ad9c-4d7b-ba09-c9a94d5e5e82

Lately, the main focus of Hugh Hewitt’s blog is Obama’s connection to a “terrorist” that caused a severe storm in both right and left media.

Biden-Palin Pre-Debate date.

Hugh Hewitt’s blog focused heavily on the media. Many posts were focused on criticizing what he called “liberal media” and tried to convince readers that the media were against Palin and their main job is to attack her: as if there were a conspiracy against her personally. Moreover, attacks did reach the debate’s moderator hinting that she is not going to be objective for the reason of her writing a book favorable to Barack Obama as McCain stated in Fox News interview.

CNN Situation Room interviewed Hugh Hewitt concerning his interview with Palin. He mentioned a very important point that reflected that the conservative media is trying to support their ticket. He said in the incident of Joe Biden talking about FTR addressing the nation on television, hard left media didn’t pick on him, but if Sarah Palin said that it will be news for 3 days.  “It is not the mention, it is emphasis and repetition”. Obviously, emphasis and repetition of blame is conservative media’s agenda to attack and defend McCain’s ticket. http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog/g/a44e4f31-eb30-42f9-9ed1-722764490d49

After Debate, Sarah 2.0: Wonderful, Hugh Hewitt posts.

 Hewitt greeted and congratulated Sarah Palin, the victim of the offensive attacks. She succeeded in showing the nation where she stood. He expressed that the debate was about her and about her strong message that brought energy and CHANGE.  He assured that she has to be talking to the Americans on radio every day because she is the “ GOP’s best weapon in Election’ 08”. 

McCain has to walk through the door that Palin opened for him after the VP debate.  From promoting to advocacy, Hugh Hewitt shifted his role to advise John McCain how to handle the Tuesday debate. Obviously, the conservative Hugh Hewitt has many friends in countries that lack freedom of expression and their job is to defend their regimes. http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog/g/acf9756e-96e0-4282-812d-a542863ae914

McCain-Obama Debate:

Hugh Hewitt focused like many conservative media outlets that McCain won the first debate. “McCain Shines and Obama is on the defensive throughout” Hewitt said on September 26th. Hewitt said that Obama kept saying McCain is right in addition to “Ahs, Uhms” illustrated the lack of Obama’s experience and that Obama staggered on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, he admitted resentfully that those thirty minutes of debating the economic crisis were to Obama’s advantage. http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog/g/6a21d8f6-9aca-4c59-9a9f-c36d8d0178e7

Finger pointing and blaming the Democratic Party for being the reason behind the failure of the bailout bill had its share from Hugh Hewitt Town Hall Blog.

On September 29th, Hewitt posted on his blog a catchy title “The Pelosivilles In Your Future”.  The emphasis of the Republican’s message was the accusation that Pelosi killed the bailout as a result of her speech. Her attacks on the Republican Party and Bush administration for being in charge of this mess, was the reason why Republicans didn’t vote for this bill. http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog/g/0dd06a57-87f4-4c75-ac5f-71bdf80d7b18

Moreover, the McCain campaign went on with their accusation but this time to the Obama campaign that he was the reason for killing the bill with his allies in the House.  Again Hewitt blamed in his blog that the Democrats failed in convincing 95 Democrats to vote in favor of the bill and said that Obama is using the crisis for his political advantage.  Nevertheless, there was nothing covered about the reason why the majority of Republicans didn’t vote for this bill though McCain had suspended his Campaign to solve this crisis.  Hewitt was judgmental and decided that American voters will be insane to give more power to “this bunch” as he exactly stated.

In Hewitt’s post “With One Month To Go: McCain Will close and Win”, Hugh stated the conservative’s view and hope for McCain. Points to think of: financial system and the economic crisis, Democrats not working with Bush on Social Security, corruption poisoning the decision-making, Obama lack of experience, the children singing behind Obama, Obama is a huge risk. Do these point make sense since the Bush Administration is behind this crisis and the economy was strong a few weeks ago?!! http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog/g/8a43cf4e-75f7-483b-b169-0e8313b34113

Turning to the Left

On the other hand, liberal blog Huffington Post had a different approach on many issues than Hugh Hewitt blogs, such as the financial crisis, Obama-McCain’s debate, Sarah Palin interviews, and the VP debate.

Economic crisis had a good coverage in the Huffington post. With the decline of Wall Street stocks after passing the bailout, many voices came out and discussed the dangers of this crisis and the consequences for the American people. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-pinkerton/iwall-street-journali-con_b_132793.html

Machiavellian Approach in the Financial Crisis. 

Concerning the financial crisis, the coverage was that McCain’s campaign couldn’t get the bailout bill story straight instead there was a Machiavellian approach by Bill Marovitz. He said that the Democrats met their promise and voted for Bush’s Republican bill, while the Republican members failed in voting using Pelosi’s speech as an excuse. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-marovitz/machiavellian-again_b_130699.html

Obama-McCain Debate:

The liberal media maintained its objectivity in an article posted after Obama-McCain’s debate, it illustrated with figures and numbers how before the debate 83 percent of the country thought McCain was stronger on foreign policy, but after the debate people were evenly split in their opinions. In addition, it is mentioned that McCain did well after the weeks of bleeding for McCain campaign. Paul Jenkins posted an article showing a current pull illustrates how Obama is winning states that Bush won in his race. Such coverage was not mentioned in the conservative blog. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-jenkins/obama-and-democrats-fight_b_130755.html

Another outstanding article that didn’t appear in the conservative media is how the Twitter.com is participating in the election process. Steve Rosenbum slapped us with the reality of how the social networks do exist in the race to the White House race. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-rosenbaum/the-debate-conversation_b_130720.html

 Sarah Plain Face to Face with the Media:

Huffington Post had its share of making fun of Palin’s poor performance with the press.http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/couric-palin-open/704042/

An article by Jill Robinson argued how McCain is in a weak position after Palin’s interviews with Couric and the economic crisis. Through the article there was no blaming on any side, it was well argued that McCain has problems and he has to act toward solving them. More criticism hit Palin and her lack of knowledge and experience to be VP, these critics were reasonable when it came to the Supreme Court matters. An article posted by Tanene Allison. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tanene-allison/why-what-palin-doesnt-kno_b_130696.html

Many topics were not discussed in the right wing blog. Following Hugh Hewitt’s blog, it was concentrated on promoting and polishing Palin and accusing the media of not doing an ethical job. Instead, Huffington Post bloggers were discussing important subjects that would benefit the voters such as health care strategies of both campaigns. An article by Linda Bergthold draws the attention to the fact that McCain advisors think that McCain’s health plan is radical. The argument was explaining to the readers Obama’s plan and the differences from McCain’s. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-bergthold/who-is-the-radical-on-hea_b_131888.html

 

October 8, 2008 at 3:29 am Leave a comment

Who to Blame Now?

The traditional tactic for Republican Party is to blame the media for being biased. Whenever they face difficulty or there is bad news about them they say the media are biased as a way to dismiss the criticism or bad news. They use this tactic to rally their voters, and to try to shame the media into changing their coverage. But what happens when more and more people are getting their news and information from new media sources?  Does this tactic work today when the mainstream media are being challenged by the growth of blogs and online sources?

Because of the emergence of so-called new media, it is increasingly difficult for the Republicans to win by blaming the mainstream media for liberal bias. Since the election of 2004, Americans learned how to receive their news in different ways. Blogs, online videos and social networks have changed the way people find out and think about the presidential campaigns.

The Democrats have embraced the new media and are using it effectively to deliver their message. The mainstream media have less power and influence than in the past, so blaming them is less effective. The Republicans would be better off if they used the new media, rather than trying to blame the old media.

The Republicans have a real dilemma now when it comes into this blame tactic for the reason that this race is massively driven by what is happening online. Two weeks ago and as it is expected, McCain’s Campaign jumped into attacking the mainstream media for being biased, especially after Palin’s appearances on TV and her interviews. It looks like McCain’s campaign still doesn’t get it that the old tradition of blame is not going to work. Because even if the mainstream media are going to be soft on the Republicans, the new media will cover and analyze everything so the news will still get out.

 

 

A slight change

Seemingly, Conservative bloggers use the new media to help their ticket to win. Hence, they are trying to communicate online to reach voters to choose the McCain-Palin ticket. They are not able to be out of the blame-game frame. Hugh Hewitt and many conservative media outlets interviewed Sara Palin after her interview with Couric in order to help her to overcome the failure. An interesting question asked by Hewitt draws my attention is that how the “left media” tried to embarrass her. Déjà vu! Here it is again, the “left media” are the problem, it is not Palin and her lack of knowledge and experience. Ironically, her reply was more attractive, “Well, I have a degree in journalism also, so it surprises me that so much has changed since I received my education in journalistic ethics all those years ago.”  

Without anyone to blame, the last few weeks were hard on the McCain campaign. McCain remains vulnerable on two issues. The first is the economic crisis.  The country is struggling and this was clear from the first presidential debate and the fact that this topic that didn’t give much space to foreign policy and national security contrary to Bush-Kerry context in 2004 race. The second factor is his running mate Palin and her apparent lack of general knowledge and experience as demonstrated in her interviews with Charlie Gibson of ABC news and Katie Couric.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  (more…)

October 8, 2008 at 1:39 am Leave a comment

Keyboard Campaigning!

http://twitter.com/obama

Social networks have a significant impact on 2008 race to the White House. Online social groups are playing an influential role in this election that mainstream media have not only recognized their role but reported on their content.

“Media is moving from the source of information to the site of action.” Clary Shirky.

Polls shows that Sen. Barak Obama has a major lead on Sen. John McCain when it comes into the message of changing Washington. Obama has maintained the lead on domestic politics such as economy and energy according to Vote 2008.  More polls are showing that young voters prefer Sen. Obama to Sen. McCain. Obama has succeeded on reaching the young voters through their preferred means such as the Internet.

“Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age.” Barack Obama Presidential Announcement Speech in Springfield, IL 02/10/07

The Obama campaign, from the very beginning, was aware that it is the age of technology and that the political scene will be affected by new media. Moreover, mainstream media will not be enough for communicating their message. Therefore, they looked into different tools that would serve their purpose and their promise, “Change We Need”. Text messages, online videos and social networks facilitated Obama’s campaign goals by attracting young voters and even convincing them that he will provide the change or in another words he is the change. Ironically, this slogan was stolen by other campaigns. It is apparent that it was the promise that Americans were looking for after eight years of the Bush administration’s failures, it is served by sufficient tools and reinforced by a solid bargain.

On one hand, Obama’s promise “Change” made sense to the people, for that reason, voters are joining and contributing to social groups and networks. The tools kept the actual promise active among them and among the new members of the groups. The desire that was born within those groups to participate and contribute made them powerful in communicating their ideas. Besides the promise itself, which offered a higher value to the groups to connect with each other.

 The tools channeled the intentions of these social groups and helped the people to do what they want to do. Furthermore, these tools helped in delivering on the promise.

 The bargain sets standards of behavior for and by the group, it is about what is expected by the joining group, and terms for the interactive experience in the group. Obama has committed himself to his supporters and together they will provide the change to Washington. It was clear from the very beginning in setting the message structure.

Looking at the Obama campaign’s website, it was not exactly a social software where people engaged in an open conversation, it was for the purpose of fund raising and raising awareness. However, it was the step for what we are seeing now.

http://www.barackobama.com/index.php

Social software creates the bilateral communication within the community and the social interaction. The Obama campaign has succeeded strategically in using these social networks to build a chain relation among promise, tool and bargain to achieve the goal “Change We Believe In”.

http://www.myspace.com/barackobama

 

October 1, 2008 at 2:24 am Leave a comment

Who is in Control?

The world changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the US became the sole power in a unipolar world.  9/11 and the Iraq Invasion permeated Americans’ daily life in addition to the political campaigns.  In the 2004 election, Bush played the national security card.  In 2000, conservative politics made its way to the Oval office as a result of the moral battle: family values versus liberal politics and “Clinton’s scandal”.

The 2008 election race has been taken in another direction with the vast injection of technology. Instead of technology to be the vehicle, it becomes the driver. Four main tools have ruled this race, cell –phone: a good example is Obama’s announcement, he text messaged his supporters to go to his website to hear what he had to say. Online videos, social networks and blogs are the other major forces, as it is argued in The First Campaign Globalization, the Web and the Race for the While House by Garrett Graff.

In the book, Garrett Graff said Internet has become the medium and the message. It is obvious that Internet has not only a great impact on our daily life but in the way we view the different aspects of politics.

Technology is forcing the two campaigns operate at a faster pace. We are witnessing tactical moves in this race especially in communication and fundraising.

YouTube, Facebook, bloggers and others are all used by new segment of voters, the young and educated who may change American politics. Graff illustrated in his book that the 2008 Campaign is signaling a new age and high-tech will define the outcome.

The question that is still to be answered is that who is in control of the message, the mainstream media or the new independent media?  In 2006, YouTube broadcast yourself, didn’t have to convince any network to air its videos, however, once videos find their way out maybe because they are spontaneous, unscripted or maybe networks are failing in finding an interesting hook for the young generation that has increasingly relied on the Internet and the demand of new change.

The “Macaca” video is a good example that holds George Allen accountable for his own words and even cost his political life. YouTube didn’t ask any of the mainstream media to air this video, however, CNN put it on air and after that it was in every national and local channels and George Allen went with the wind.

 

 

 

Another example. Obama’s girls vs. Giuliani’s girls and even Bush girls.

 

 

The war’s drums have started between the mainstream media and the new independent media–all managed by individuals who believe in putting their fingerprint on what is happening in the media. Journalists’ concerns will be always focused on the reporting quality and fact checking. So, who will be in control?

 

 

 

 

 

September 26, 2008 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

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