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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."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 12, 2008; 4:02 PM ET
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