Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Obama's Camaign Uses Existing Social Networks to Organize Ohio

That's the question raised by this article in the online version of Time magazine. The answer is yes, definitely.

The article is titled Obama's Ohio Grassroots Advantageand it points out how Obama has been organizing in Ohio since last summer. Just as in other states, the Obama campaign has relied on volunteers in Ohio who got activated through the campaign website. This is a quote from the article:

One of Obama's first volunteers here was Antoinette McCall, a substitute high school teacher who has never worked a campaign before in her life. McCall became active 11 months ago, donating what little money she could to Obama's campaign. She used Obama's website to recruit volunteers and run a phone bank from her living room. She convinced friends who own beauty salons to organize their customers, and created a database of hundreds of Obama supporters.

"It's like we had this whole movement built up before the campaign staff even got here," says McCall, 36. In a few months, McCall, a political novice, has built an organization rivaling that of some state senators who form the backbone of Clinton's establishment support. "By the time they finally opened the office," she says, "this place was packed."

The reference to beauty shops is interesting since the use of beauty and barber shops was credited with helping the Obama campaign build an organization in South Carolina. What the Obama campaign was able to do was to tap into the social networks that such shops had already established and use them for the campaign.

What is fascinating about Obama's campaign is that he has a background in community organization. One thing that community organizers are taught is to identify existing social networks and use them to organize a community for political change and activism. Clearly the Obama campaign has been doing just that.

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