Presidential contender Barack Obama is getting a groundswell of grass-roots support, and not even through any doing of his own.
Just a few weeks ago, one individual supporter waged an online campaign to get 1 million voters to back Barack Obama using the online networking site FaceBook.com.
The nuts and bolts of this effort are simple: The supporter created a FaceBook page called “One Million Strong for Barack.” It had some photos and a few links to Obama information. The page went out to one network of friends, then another and another, with more users signing up each time.
On the day the group was created, 100 members got on board. Three days later, 1,000. A week later, 10,000. And with more than 170,000 members right now, the Obama group could very well reach its goal of 1 million supporters by Feb. 10.
While the Obama movement on FaceBook has taken off in a dramatic way, other candidates could reap the same benefits.
“I think Obama is very attractive to people online, but every other candidate out there has the opportunity to create a moment or create a movement online and spark themselves, becoming formidable in the race,” said Joe Trippi, campaign manager for former presidential candidate Howard Dean. “You know no one was thinking about Howard Dean (at this point in the campaign) the last time around, so someone we don’t know could pop because of this kind of technology.”
In 2004, Dean jumped to early front-runner status using the Internet to raise money and spread this simple message: “You have the power!”
Right now, there are FaceBook groups for Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, John Edwards and a few for Mitt Romney, including one just for evangelicals.
For the Obama campaign, a group of 1 million online supporters, all in one digital place, could mean grass-roots help with getting out a message, raising money and growing support.
The FaceBook campaign is another example of how much easier it is for like-minded voters to organize. In this case, voters are coming together for a particular candidate, but it could just as easily have been an idea or a campaign issue.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of this movement is that consultants and strategists had absolutely nothing to do with it. Just a voter, a candidate and a place to talk about it.