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Obama’s MySpace Delegates Making Waves Offline

Monday, February 18th, 2008

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This election season has seen the leading Presidential candidates adopt the tools of new media at encouraging — even exciting — rates. The key to what makes this round different from previous cycles is new media in general and social networking in particular empower all people, not just the pros. So even where a candidate affirmatively takes action, his/her supporters can go miles beyond. Ron Paul’s supporters have been Exhibit A in this case, but as the campaign season marches on, we see more and more examples of the virtuous cycle social networks facilitate.

The latest example is exceptional. Senator Obama’s campaign created a place on MySpace for his Washington state supporters to show their support and organize for the caucuses. Those efforts led to several young people not only participating in the process, but getting themselves elected precinct delegates, and then telling stories of their efforts back on MySpace.

Eighteen-year-olds not just voting, but being chosen as delegates after getting involved through MySpace?!?! How amazing is this for our political process and our nation? The redemocratization of American politics is happening before our eyes and MySpace is playing a significant role in the people-powered-politics movement. I could not be more proud to be part of this incredibly diverse and powerful community.

Check out the story from The Nation below:

Obama’s MySpace Delegates
Mon Feb 11, 4:44 PM ET

The Nation — Barack Obama’s scored one of his largest campaign victories in this weekend’s Washington state caucus, and he did it with help from his “friends” on MySpace.

The Obama campaign mobilized about 2,000 people on a special MySpace page for Washington state, and over a dozen of them were elected precinct delegates on Saturday. In a caucus, those delegates represent a candidates’ official support, rather than the popular vote, and they compete in run-off elections to select the “national” delegates who attend the DNC convention and formally select the nominee.

Brittany Duff, a high school senior who turned 18 last month, told me she was the youngest person at her caucus this weekend, but people were happy to elect her as a delegate. She learned about Obama through the campaign’s social networking portal, MyBo, and through MySpace, where she posted her reasons for supporting Obama on her profile: I can really support Obama because of his incredible character, charisma, and contributions to all parts of society, not just the well-off and well to do. There are few blemishes upon his record. That’s not something I can honestly say about any other candidate. And what skeletons he does have in his closet, he brings out into the open himself in his book. That honesty is so refreshing in a climate of posturing and pretending. He really comes through as a person, not just a soulless political machine. That’s what we need!

Melissa, a 21-year-old who won an alternate delegate position, told me she had never voted before, but it was “only natural” to attend the caucus because she is so excited by Obama’s campaign. Other delegates and voters posted similar messages back at the MySpace page after the caucus ended, and on a Washington state blog thread at the campaign’s homepage. MySpace’s Executive Producer of Political Programming, Lee Brenner, said the delegate elections were another example of how “MySpace has become a forum where young voters in Washington and across the country can engage with candidates as well as have a dialogue with the larger MySpace community.”

This is more anecdotal evidence that the campaign’s social networking is not only mobilizing new and young voters, but also fostering more intense and interactive political engagement.

Jeff Berman is MySpace Executive Vice President of Marketing and Content and a member of the Why Tuesday? Advisory Board.

One Response to “Obama’s MySpace Delegates Making Waves Offline”

  1. My Urban Report » BLOG BITS AND NEWS BITES Says:

    […] It seems that Senator Barack Obama is connecting with younger voters through sites like MySpace. [WhyTuesday] Senator Obama‚Äôs campaign created a place on MySpace for his Washington state supporters to show […]

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