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Obama Web Sites Give Calif. Volunteers a Boost

By Philip Rucker
In a sign of how he may marshal the power of the vast online network he built during the campaign, President-elect Barack Obama today gave prominent display on his campaign and transition home pages to efforts to help the victims of wildfires burning across Southern California.

"Throughout the campaign, we saw time and again that when ordinary people act together, they can make a huge difference," read a notice on, urging supporters to go to for ways to help.

Obama's plea contributed to a surge in visitors to the site, a branch of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office that helps coordinate disaster relief efforts. The number of daily visits to the site increased from 15,000 on Monday to 179,000 Tuesday, according to Karen Baker, Schwarzenegger's secretary of service and volunteering.

"Our governor and President-elect Obama know how to leverage technology," Baker said. "They understand that if you want to reach everyday Californians and everyday Americans, you have to leverage technology."

On Sunday, Obama called Schwarzenegger (R) and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa (D) to express his concern over the wildfires and receive an update on the situation. Asked whether Obama or Schwarzenegger first suggested mobilizing Obama's online network on behalf of fire victims, Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear demurred, saying his boss would not disclose the details of the private conversation.

"The governor has said he wants to partner with President-elect Obama because the more successful he is the more successful all of us will be," McLear said. "Partnering with President-elect Obama's vast volunteer network with our nation-leading volunteer agency to help with this tragedy is a great example."

By Web Politics Editor  |  November 18, 2008; 4:55 PM ET
Categories:  New Media  
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The Obama campaign site did the same thing throughout the campaign, and I never understood why it wasn't more reported at the time.

After major natural disasters such as the flooding in the Midwest, different hurricanes, and even the Pacific storm that hit Burma (Myanmar), featured the Red Cross prominently on the main home page (very much like the screen shot shown here) and encouraged people to go there to donate money.

One of the "post-election" pieces I have read recently mentioned that this led to a huge increase in visitors (and hopefully some increase in donors!) to the Red Cross site.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | November 19, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

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