The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Obama TXTing His Way Forward

Maryland Barack Obama campaign office in Largo, MD, volunteers use their own cell phones to call other volunteers to gather this weekend for Get Out The Vote activities. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post.)

By Jose Antonio Vargas
Early this morning, Sen. Barack Obama sent the first of three text messages to supporters who've signed up to his messaging program and live in the D.C. area. It's a jam-packed message, starting out with an Obama quote, then asking supporters to forward the text to their friends. Most importantly, the text provides an 866 number to call to find your polling location. All you'd have to do is click on the number on your cellphone to make the free call.

"One voice can make a difference. Make that voice yours! Fwd this msg and make sure all your friends vote today for Barack. Questions, call 866-675-2008."

That text is superior to the relatively generic message sent by Sen. Hillary Clinton this afternoon. Compared with Obama, Clinton rarely sends out messages.

"Election Day -- don't forget to vote! Every vote counts in the race for the nomination. Thank you so much for your support."

More than any other campaign, with the exception of Mitt Romney's, Obama has innovatively and consistently used text messaging. Obama launched his program in June, following John Edwards and Clinton. It's impossible to measure how effective it's been, especially since
Scott Goodstein, the text guru at the Obama campaign, won't say how many people have signed up for the program.

What's clear, though, is how directed it is. Goodstein, a member of Obama's new media team, regularly sends out texts asking supporters to reply with their five-digit Zip codes. That information allows Goodstein to send targeted messages. It's a shrewd move for a candidate who's mobilized the thumb-numbing young voters of Generation

At 1:34 p.m., hours after the first text, Obama sent this message: "People who love their country can change it. Make sure all your friends vote tonight for Barack! Polls open in DC until 8 p.m. For info: 866-675-2008."

Posted at 4:02 PM ET on Feb 12, 2008
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This article highlights a key, but seldom mentioned, difference between the two candidates. That is, Obama has a much stronger handle on technology issues at large. I've noticed he is far more adept at navigating a discussion about, e.g., the Internet and technology than Clinton is. Listening to Clinton talk about the Internet evokes memories of the famous George Bush Sr incident when he was captured on video in awe of the infrared checkout at a grocery store. No offense to Clinton, I mean, she is 60 and one has to cut her some slack on this, but I'm guessing she probably still uses a typewriter.

Posted by: katefranklin60 | February 13, 2008 12:20 PM

I'm 63 and this makes me want to buy a cell phone.

Posted by: jpatton1 | February 12, 2008 10:30 PM

I'm 61 so I can say that Obama is the embodiment of John.F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy and other inspirational leaders all in one. Our country and the world are so fortunate to have such a dynamic inspiration who will unit us and inspire us to make our country and the world a better place for the future of our kids.

Posted by: griggsfam2 | February 12, 2008 7:18 PM

I agree with balthasar78. Comparing the two messages one can see which one is more effective. By the way, the last time I looked, the purpose of a blog was not meant to be an objective source of information.

Posted by: gman69 | February 12, 2008 6:52 PM

For crying out loud - the comment they made is so obviously true that it's ridiculous. Allowing people to access their polling place through a text message is frankly brilliant. Pretty much every commentator in the country is acknowledging that Obama has a huge edge in the use of tech (internet/text messaging, etc.).

Get over it people, there is nothing in the article that isn't obvious to any observer. Not to mention that this is a blog on the paper - not a new story.

Posted by: balthasar78 | February 12, 2008 6:23 PM

The Post has a good track record for being impartial for the most part. This article is chipping away at that image.

Posted by: e_askarinam | February 12, 2008 5:56 PM

"That text is superior to the relatively generic message sent by Sen. Hillary Clinton this afternoon. "

In case no one's mentioned it, that's not your job.
Don't you even get a Journalism 101 orientation or something? Gee whiz, man.

Posted by: zukermand | February 12, 2008 5:30 PM

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