The Obama List: Breathing New Life Into Campaign Resources

By December 10, 2008

One of the more unique aspects of Barack Obama's presidential campaign was its employment of Web-based social networking site and e-mail strategies. The reasons why these strategies were successful is covered in an earlier post, but the outcome of interest is the huge number of individual supporters' and campaign volunteers' e-mails . Now that the reason that this database was amassed has been realized, just what the President-elect plans to do with it once he assumes his new D.C. address remains unclear. Stephen Geer, director of email and online fundraising for the future president's campaign, suggested Obama's options in his keynote address Monday at MediaPost's Email Insider Summit in Park City, Utah. The first would be to take it with him to the White House, and use it to instill support for presidential initiatives, and to encourage individuals to empower themselves by calling representatives and writing letters on matters of import. Geer believes that this is very unlikely to occur, since using this resource in the White House would mean that the list would become the property of the federal government, and would be made use of by following administrations. The immediate utility would be more than offset by potential future problems.

The other option - the more likely one, according to Geer - is to transform the list into a standalone project for publicizing issues on behalf of the Democratic party, much as online advocacy community does. This would be no small organization, though, as the scale far outnumbers those of MoveOn, and the marketing potential and impact on behalf of Obama and his fellow Democrats could be tremendous. "We are so much larger and so much more active that if we moved into their space that would be seismic." A short-term presidential campaign fundraising resource could be the basis for a political mobilizer to impact administrations and decades to come.

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