Reboot! Super Tuesday Resolves Little

By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2008-02-06

Reboot! Super Tuesday Resolves Little

On Super Tuesday, tech was everywhere: twittering away on Google, powering get-out-the-vote SMS campaigns, leveraging mobile political apps, furiously posting at blogging parties, ginning up barrels of money and continuing to weave its political voice into the 2008 national election debate.


However, at the end of the historic U.S. electoral day, nothing had changed, no knockout punches delivered-much to the delight of the underdog campaigns that have been waging war online for more than a year. Driven by an infusion of young campaign volunteers and workers armed and comfortable with technology, Barack Obama is still standing against Hillary Clinton.


"Mac" may be back, but Mike Huckabee is still around, awed as his site "lights up" with money and support, one improbable win after another. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is probably wondering about all those probability outcomes he bought into last year.

Click here for 10 things you should know about election tech trends.


Obama and Huckabee likely have Election 2.0 to thank for their early survival and continuing viability. The 2008 presidential campaign is the first to deploy powerful Web 2.0 tools to change the rules, upsetting traditional political wisdom time after time. The early online jump in the 2008 election cycle gave wings, cash and hope to Obama and Huckabee.


Those same supporters are now delivering votes, delegates and even more money to carry the campaigns on to next week's Chesapeake regional round of voting in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Having raised $32 million in January alone, Obama promised to press the battle beyond that.

Obama, in particular, has returned the favor to many of his followers by giving voice to technology issues important to his troops, if not the nation. The differences between Clinton and Obama on technology issues are minimal, more a matter of style than substance.

Reboot! Super Tuesday Resolves Little

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Clinton and Obama, for instance, are supporters of network neutrality, both signing on as co-sponsors of legislation to make it the law of the land. Clinton buried her support in a site post largely taken from the Democrats' Innovation Agenda and said little more about it. Obama rolled out his technology platform at a splashy, quotable campaign stop at Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, announcing, "I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality."


In the Nov. 14 appearance, Obama promised to "open up government and invite citizens in, while connecting all of America to 21st century broadband. We could use technology to help achieve universal health care, to reach for a clean energy future and to ensure that young Americans can compete-and win-in the global economy."


If elected, Obama said, he would appoint the nation's first chief technology officer and declared his Federal Communications Commission chairman would be a true believer in network neutrality.


It was all enough to prompt Clinton campaign workers to remind the media, "Hillary Clinton has been and continues to be a strong supporter of net neutrality."


The detailed tech pitch plays well with Obama's legions of supporters under 30 years of age, many of whom are the sons and daughters of Clinton supporters. The Mommy Party is apparently quarrelling with its children, who have for a generation now known more about the Internet than their parents.


A whole lot more, actually, if you believe a recent poll by the Congressional Internet Advisory Caucus. Almost 40 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed thought they knew more about the Internet than the candidates, an entirely plausible notion.


Unlike previous presidential campaigns, these new, tech-savvy, OMG political participants plan to vote this fall, potentially changing the dynamics of the campaigns. Already they are pouring out in record numbers for the primaries. In Iowa, Obama grabbed 57 percent of the under 30 vote. In New Hampshire he won 60 percent of those voters, and in South Carolina the percentage climbed to 67 percent.


In November, eWEEK magazine wondered, "Campaigns are increasingly relying on digital media to get the messages out, but does it translate into more votes?"


As Super Tuesday came to a close, the answer appears to be yes. 



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