I can’t let election day pass without commenting on a major innovation in campaign Get Out The Vote techniques — Barack Obama’s virtual army. Until now, only powerful politicians with machines, labor unions and churches have been able to provide large numbers of bodies to presidential campaigns for voter identification and door knocking.
Obama’s campaign has rocketed ahead of that time-honored practice. It has made good use of the thousands if not millions of cell phone numbers it captured prior to the vice presidential selection process. The campaign has been sending out multiple messages telling activists how to make calls on behalf of the candidate. Even more dramatic, the campaign has taken phone calling outside of the labor hall. Supporters can go to Obama’s website and get everything they need to call undecided voters — from the location of their choice.
Last night there were so many callers into Florida, they received an “all circuits busy” message. (Perhaps the legacy of the Great Shlep.) The success of this new method of handling calls may reflect unique excitement among young people for Obama. But my sense is this technological innovation will become a permanent feature of campaigns.