In the Web 2.0 Summit panel The Web and Politics, New York Magazine’s John Heilemann compared the 2008 presidential election to Kennedy’s 1960 campaign, the first in which television, then a new medium, influenced election results. Web and Politics panelists were SF mayor Gavin Newsom, Huffington Post editor Arianna Huffington, and media consultant and political analyst Joe Trippi, manger of Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, the first presidential campaign to make significant use of the Internet. While the Internet first showed its potential for politics in the 2004 election, this election it began to show its full power. Huffington believes that if it weren’t for the Internet, Obama would not have even won the Democratic primary, let alone the presidency. The most interesting idea floated in the panel was the idea that the Internet spells the end of the two-party system. With Web 2.0’s outreach, the ability to build a grass-roots army, Omaba was described as effectively independent. Trippi believes that this will give the Office of the President unprecedented power over
A good part of this is the Internet’s power in creating ad-hoc citizen mobilization. 3.2 million people contributed to Obama’s campaign on the internet. My.Barackobama.com helped create more than 35,000 local organizing groups, organize more than 200,000 events, and mobilized millions of callers. 1/18th if Americans are in an Obama network. That's a large group ready for mobilization.
The Web has allowed Obama to create a global presence. In my opinion, the increasing understanding on the part of politicians of how to properly use the Web could create a generation of statesmen whose power (ideological if not political) transcends national boundaries, and who can use this power to mobilize citizens of countries outside of their own. The staggering international presence on Obama’s Facebook page suggests we’re on that path.
And that Facebook presence? At the time of the election, Obama had 2.9 million Facebook supporters (now over 3 million); McCain had only 620,000.