During each presidential election the techniques and practices employed to organize and engage voters becomes ever more sophisticated, with new technology increasingly playing its part. Enter Apple's iPhone, which the Obama campaign is hoping to turn into a political recruiting tool like none seen before.
The most notable feature of the new "Obama for America" iPhone application, available as a free download via the iTunes store, is the ability to tap your iPhone's existing address book in order to prioritize your contacts "by key battleground states", presumably so that you'll call them up to persuade them to vote Obama. It's key battlegrounds - states that could go either way - that Obama will need to win if he's to become president.
The application will also keep a score of how well you're doing (the number of calls initiated through the Obama for America app), annonymously of course: "Your privacy is important: no personal data or contacts will be uploaded or stored. Only the total number of calls you make is uploaded anonymously."
Another clever feature - "get involved" - makes use of the iPhone GPS functionality to help potential Obama campaigners find the nearest Obama HQ and upcoming local events. The application also delivers the latest Obama campaign news links, video (YouTube) and photos, along with a guide to Obama's positions on various issues.
Twitter benefiting from US presidential election debates
Twitter usage and sign-ups received a healthy boost during last Friday's first presidential debate for the 08 campaign. The official Twitter blog reports that, despite Friday traditionally being a slow traffic day:
- Friday updates jumped 18.5% from previous Friday.
- Updates during the debate increased 160% compared to same time last week.
- Signups on Friday were up 23%.
- Signups during the debate were up 135% compared to same time last week.
Although, as Wired notes, the shot in arm for Twitter also co-incided with the company's launch of a dedicated politics tracker - Twitter’s new Election 2008 site - and the blog/mainstream media attention that followed. Of course the fact that this has translated into increased sign-ups and use suggests that chicken or egg, the strategy is paying off.