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Obama for America's 50-State Strategy Shows Up Online

BY Nick Judd | Friday, October 28 2011

In 2008, Obama for America's 50-state strategy contributed to his election. Now it looks like his campaign isn't just adopting it again on the ground — his campaign is rounding up ground troops online as well.

Obama for America is on a Twitter campaign today in several states across the country, urging state-level OfA organizations to raise their follower count by asking them to compete against one another to see who can recruit the most. Publicly accessible campaign pages bill it as a "50-state" competition, but that may not be the case — I found pages for battleground states Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire and Ohio, but not Arizona, New Mexico, California, Georgia or Washington. (OfA has Twitter accounts in all 50 states.)

OfA supporters are getting the call to spread the word on Twitter about their state-level organizations, with promises of swag to motivate retweets.

If you follow a state-level campaign account, chances are you have some connection to that state; this could be a way to build state-specific lists of online supporters, which beget issue-specific messaging. The landing page for OfA Ohio's effort, for example, name-checks the ongoing fight over collective bargaining rights for public sector unions that's still raging in that state. The campaign can also follow you back and send you direct messages, a tactic that Republicans have been trying out in the field as a list-building tool.

It's also interesting to see OfA — which isn't even facing a primary — gearing up online in the states, while none of the Republican presidential candidates appear to be doing so. Romney for President New Hampshire Facebook group: four likes. New Hampshire for Rick Perry: 108 likes. Obama for America New Hampshire: 1,591. Romney for President New Hampshire Twitter account: non-existent. @OFA_NH: 1,945 followers. The Republican predilection for social media dominance does not look like it's generating potential supporters for state-level ground work. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign's focus on ground troops may manifest itself in burgeoning follower and Facebook like counts, each person a potential messenger for the Democratic candidate in the general election.

Of course these numbers don't define winners and losers, but it's pretty well accepted at this point that social media presence can be an important part of a campaign; just ask organized labor leaders in Ohio, for instance, who credit Facebook for many of the thousands who signed petitions and came out to march against reductions in public sector unions' collective bargaining ability this year. The fate of that campaign will be decided this November. And while the Obama campaign is getting people engaged locally online in some states, it doesn't look like Republican candidates are doing it at all.