Barack Obama’s Text Message Campaign for the White House

We’ve written about this before.

Now Slate takes notice of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s use of text messaging to mobilize voters to the polls in the final weeks of the campaign.

Compare this method to robocalls and other, formerly “high-tech” ways to influence the electorate, and you can see how many light years ahead the Obama campaign is in getting supporters to help the Democrats capture the White House.

Texting someone is a convenient, targeted, and noticeable reminder for them to schedule their Election Day activities with a block of time set aside for going to the polling place.” In a post-election survey, [scholars] asked voters whether they found the text messages helpful; 59 percent said yes.

Obama’s campaign seems to know these lessons well. During the primaries, the campaign sent out multiple messages to supporters during Election Day; they’ll do the same next week. There’s some question about whether text messages will continue to be effective beyond this election—if telemarketing companies can get ahold of our cell numbers and we get barraged by political spam, text-based mobilization efforts may eventually become as useless as robo-calls. At the moment, though, we’re in thrall to our cell phones—and when Obama texts you next Tuesday, you’ll have a hard time saying no.

Like Slate writer Farhad Manjoo, I signed up for all manner of stuff from the Obama campaign (and the McCain campaign), including text messaging and e-newsletters. Where almost all e-newsletter are deleted with barely a glance from my inbox, it’s the text messages (and Twitter alerts) that catch my attention.

And, like Manjoo, I’ve noted those text messages to be highly targeted and relevant to what’s going on in my state. As state voting registration deadlines approached, I got Obama reminders. As early voting began, Obama text messages told me when I could start casting my ballot. I expect the messages to continue up through — and possibly even after — Election Day.


Gizmodo on other ways the candidates engaged supporters in this first (real) Internet election.


One Response

  1. […] take a look at this entry from Lance Turner and the types of messages he’s received from the Obama […]

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