Barack Had to Be Authentic

Posted by Mike Chapman on July 23, 2020 at 10:19 pm

This past weekend I had the opportunity to catch up with my former colleague and political phenom, Steve Hildebrand, Deputy Campaign Manager for the Obama Presidential campaign. Steve and several of the key staff members from the Obama campaign were speaking to the Netroots Nation conference about their online campaign.

Steve recounted that while planning the campaign with the Obamas, they decided that “Barack had to be authentic.” The online campaign, like the overall campaign, had to be about the movement and changing the country. Further, it had to allow for volunteers to be true partners in the online efforts, allowing for a wide range of affinity groups created within the campaign’s own website and for local volunteer organizations to be truly empowered.

They recognized that the “internet alone won’t win elections. It must be combined with on-the-ground efforts.” That combination could allow Obama’s skills as a community organizer to be translated online to reach out in ways never before possible on a Presidential campaign.

According to Hildebrand, they determined that the Iowa caucuses could provide the “path of credibility” they needed to go the distance. Simultaneously, they began preparations for a full-scale national campaign based largely on volunteer support and coordinated largely online.

They discovered that Obama would draw support from across the country and further used their website in a serious attempt to win the “the first primary, the financial primary,” in spite of the huge advantages of their opponents. When the fundraising results for the 4th quarter of 2007 were announced, they had won the “financial primary” with a record number of donors and dollars coming from their online efforts.

The goal of, the hub of all Obama campaign online activity, is not to win awards, but to win the election. The Obama campaign has kept it simple, sticking to the fundamentals. All functions of the online campaign are specifically done to compliment traditional campaign strategies.

The Obama campaign is fully embracing the potential of the online organizational opportunities and they are active in a number of online social networks. While the online activities of the Obama campaign did not win the nomination, they were a integral and key component. Fundraising, community organizing, get out the vote (GOTV) activities, voter registration, meetups, and rapid responses to media and opponent charges, are all greatly enhanced by the internet efforts.

Smart companies, non-profits, and government agencies will certainly be studying the Obama online efforts to see where they might enhance their own consumer and constituent services.

Category: Social Media, In the News, Connections, Social Networking, Fund-raising, Bloggers

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1 Comment

Comment by Kristin Gorski

Made July 24, 2020 at 8:39 pm

The authenticity comes through completely. So many campaigns seems to have a frantic air about them as candidates tries to mold themselves to fit whatever image focus groups say they are supposed to project to “win”, yet these false efforts usually fall short.

The campaign’s simplicity and focus completely come through, too. Refreshing. Fascinating insights here — thanks!

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