The Obama Effect: Multidisciplinary Renderings of the 2008 Campaign

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His candidacy was nuanced and innovative and as the first post-baby boomer presidential candidate he represented a changing of the guard. The change could be felt immediately. This is not to say that fundraising was not a top target of this new online communications strategy. In fact, in terms of national fundraising data collected by CNN, Obama nearly doubled the amount of money raised by McCain 11 in the election.

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A key facet of building up fundraising and defining a media message to the public is the use of email to solicit donors. Even just six years ago, these types of emails were far from the ubiquitous presence in inboxes that they are today, complete with catchy subject lines and flashy graphics. A study by Qingwen Dong of these messages consistently point to the tone of email communication between Obama and McCain as being the most concrete and decisive difference.

Emails from the Obama campaign concentrated on a sense of togetherness and unity behind a common cause. A major social media presence was the most visible difference in strategy unique to the Obama campaign. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and YouTube were all used heavily to magnify the perception that Obama the candidate was approachable and in touch with his future constituents. He had more than , followers, while his Republican rival McCain had a mere 4, The most significant use of digital communication and indeed one of the most often referenced was the announcement of Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden by text message to all subscribing supporters.

This move while risky had enormous payoff, especially in before text message alerts were commonplace users equated them almost exclusively with short casual interactions between close friends and family. By forsaking the usual drama of a formal announcement and instead prioritizing sharing the news with supporters, the Obama campaign brilliantly employed its overarching strategy of engaging the public at every level.

Most important however, is the precedent set by such participation, and the expectations thereafter of the Obama Presidential administration. By engaging the public and fostering their involvement in the campaign, the Obama team made a normative promise to continue that level of openness once in office.

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Constituents felt hopeful and excited about the new lanes of communication and that contributed to the overwhelming expectations for the Obama Presidency. Not only was President Obama mandated to overhaul the economic recession, solve immigration and confront the devastating partisanship that was gridlocking Congress, he was expected to do it all in constant contact with the public. Supporters had become accustomed to having their voices heard and the Obama campaign supported that understanding and expectation for his time in office. The transition efforts bringing the Obama-Biden ticket into office harnessed similar strategies to ensure that the database they had worked so hard to accrue would still be effective in the White House.

Immediately following the election, President Obama refocused his campaign efforts on ensuring that his particular brand of engagement would translate into the presidency. The stellar web creation teams responsible for BarackObama. In early it was a buzz-worthy topic as the public was faced with a tangible fight between their new-fangled President and the old adages of the formal White House. Obama himself, who mentioned it again and again.

He would not take no for an answer. At the start, it seemed that Obama the President would utilize social media to garner support for his legislative actions, similar to the media strategy of his campaign. A noticeable early change was the switch from a weekly radio address to the nation, to a weekly YouTube video address, his encouragement of other senior staff to make social media part of their public relations strategies as well.

The President worked initially, indeed in his first public video address on January 24, , to connect with constituents on the basis of their economic concerns and publicly announce the impending American Reinvestment and Recovery Act ARRA. It seemed as though the Obama media strategy was being carried out just as was expected, and supporters would continue their deep involvement with the practices carried out by their President. To answer this question, one must first consider the preliminary efforts of the nascent Obama administration to open digital lines of communication with the public.

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Why Taking the White House Online Does Not Make It More Accessible To The Public

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McCain And Obama Rematch

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John T.