Barack Obama

Obama, Ron Paul and the Long Tail of Web Campaigning

(From Espen's department)My friend Malte directed my attention me to a piece on ReadWriteWeb regarding an article on TechPresident titled Barack Obama and the Long Tail of Politics.

In it Central Desktop CEO Isaac Garcia applies Chris Anderson's famous Long Tail theory to the campaign of US presidential hopeful Barack Obama He argues that Barack Obama, and to a lesser extent Ron Paul, have built campaigns on the back of the Long Tail of political interest in the US.

Both Barack Obama and Ron Paul managed to raise an impressive amount of money over the Internet - out of the record $32 million that Obama raised in January, $28 million was via the Internet, and 90% from small donations under $100 each.

Says ReadWriteWeb:

"That's a whole new paradigm for fundraising," we wrote. "Rather than chase $2,300 checks from a few hundred rich people at lavish fundraisers (okay, they still do that), campaigns can more easily focus on collecting thousands of smaller donations from regular people that add up to the same amount (or more)."

"The rise of the Obama Campaign tells us that Scale Matters. It means that The Long Tail is validated (in politics at least)," says Garcia. "It also means that size doesn't matter after all; rather, it is the quantity that matters. Scale Matters."

That's an important point, and echoes what we said earlier this month about the paradigm shift in political fundraising. The Internet has allowed campaigns to tap into the Long Tail of politics for fundraising and organizing. Obama and Paul are attracting people to the political process who have never participated before, and while their message and rhetoric has a lot to do with that, it is the web tools that have enabled it and allowed it to happen.

They trace the origin of these efforts to Howard Dean's 2004 project which served to stimulate a grassroots movement; something that has developed furhter in the age of Web 2.0 with the use of services like Facebook, Myspace, Youtube or Reddit and is advanced by Obama's spearheads being tech-savvy high school and college students, and recent grads, who are for the first time in recent history being drawn into the active political process

Continues ReadWriteWeb

"It is technology that is driving the grassroots effort in such a fast and scalable fashion for these new campaigns," writes Garcia. "By enabling users and donors to contribute their dollars, content and time through online tools the speed and efficiency in which these efforts grows takes on a network effect that accelerates campaigns quicker than ever. In many ways, its the network effect of user participation and user empowerment that is driving the Obama campaign."

New software has created a political landscape where voters feel more connected to candidates and each other than every before. Citizens are able to participate in the political process on a personal level more easily as a result of web 2.0.

Because of that development, political campaigns in 2008 are able to tap a previously unreachable Long Tail of voters (or potential voters). What Obama and Paul are tapping into also echoes the commentary Alex Iskold made about the Long Tail of the blogosphere last November. "You can make money on the Long Tail but not in the Long Tail. The precise point of Anderson's argument is that it is a collective of the Long Tail amounts to substantial dollars because the volume is there," he wrote.


What If the Presidential Candidates Were Videogames?

We already covered the candidates' stand on videogame legislation. But what if the candidates themselves were games? Game With a Brain provides the voting guide for geeks: Barack Obama - Final Fantasy VII (PS One)

In fact, while Final Fantasy VII is often cited as one of the best games ever made, you are likely to find just as many who decry it as the most over hyped ever. These vocal gamers often note that while Final Fantasy VII got all the headlines, much better RPGs were being released on the PlayStation-such as Suikoden.

Hillary Clinton - Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! (SNES)

By the third title’s release gamers were no longer sure they wanted more Donkey Kong Country. Worse still, hindsight had caught up with the first two titles and they no longer seemed quite so perfect or revolutionary. By the third title’s release gamers were seeking change, and some mild gameplay gimmicks were not enough. Still, many consider it the best of the series.

Mike Huckabee - Bible Adventures (NES)

The actual game may not impress you much upon first play, but there is a certain fun, winning charm to its weirdness. Again, much like Mike Huckabee.

(Does anyone know if the game had squirrels as power-ups?)

John McCain - Desert Bus: Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors (Sega CD, unreleased)

A bus driving simulator, Desert Bus tasked you with driving a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in eight hours of real time. The game could not be paused, and the bus occasionally would veer to the right. So, like the Arizona senator you set out on a grueling long journey (to your party’s nomination) and occasionally veer off to the right (frightening potential independent voters). Uncanny.


What if the Primary Candidates were Consoles?

Gigaom posted witty a piece comparing the Primary Candidates of the Democrats to game consoles:

Barack Obama is the Nintendo Wii: The multi-racial candidate who was first dismissed by Washington insiders for not having enough power or third-party backers — but has gone on to draw immense popularity, not just from hardcore party faithful, but from the young and old, independents and Republicans alike. Instantly appealing like the Wii, Obama is popular not because of his library of policies, but because he is changing the way the game is played.

Hillary Clinton is the Microsoft Xbox 360: Backed by the most money, seen as a reliable and established brand, Hillary appeals most to the Democratic base, much the same way the 360 is most popular with hardcore gamers. Transitioning from her husband’s Xbox era, she offers not revolutionary change but steady, reliable content.

John Edwards is the Playstation 3: Formerly the Democratic frontrunner of the previous generation, Edwards now offers a greatly enhanced library of positions with far more ideological power — which few except Edwards’ die-hard fanboys seem to be buying. Unsurprisingly, the candidates are now polling about the same as their next-gen analogs are currently selling, with the Wii capturing 44 percent of the vote, the 360 pulling in 36 percent, and the PS3 trailing far behind with 20 percent.

Of course one might want to add some qualifications here and there, e.g. the public eventually realising that only changing the way the game is played might not be enough – just like Wii might face a difficult 2008 once everybody has one and the content comes to the foreground. Nevertheless: Both cases, Wii and Obama, show the public's tremendous desire for change from the status quo. Also Hillary 360 Clinton is actually more revolutionary than her Wii counterpart on a couple of issues, especially socialised medicine. Still funny and though provoking stuff though.

One commentator of the piece linked Ron Paul to old school Nintendo games. I'd rather like to think of him as early 80s Atari: old school and half visionary, half crazy.