Election 2012 was either supposed to be about someone beating Obama or Obama beating someone. That part of the story is still being told. However the sub-story of Election 2012 is not which GOP candidate got a "surge." Surge. That word -- each time I heard the word "surge" I looked at my surge protector to see if it was doing its job or not. The sub-story is not who got best played on Saturday Night Live (yet). The sub-story is not about super PACs and the unlimited damage they can do to one or all of the candidates without recourse. The sub-story is not even the race to pull the GOP ever rightward and or the race to see how many progressives can once again abandon the democrats. No. those are minor stories.
Indeed the real sub-story, and it is racing to compete with the main story, is the fascinating uses of social media, mobile apps and something called Gov 2.0. Many people may not be familiar with Gov 2.0 but with all the current electioneering going on, we need to pause for a moment to see where a lot of this energy and technology is getting its base from. There are some excellent examples of where Gov 2.0 has crossed into electoral politics.
Whether it is fundraising as this article in The Washington Post details, or the increase in people power and disenfranchised people using their collective voices through social media as this Los Angeles Times article details, or simply campaigns using geo-located tools to haul in voters either to the polls or to donate money -- it is clear that Election 2012 is really about the technology changes and how it is changing everything from polling to predictive analysis on election nights to fundraising and engagement between elected officials and citizens.
Each campaign has a full suite of social media platforms, tools, mobile applications. Some campaigns are digging deep into "big data" like the Obama campaign is doing in Chicago. Some campaigns are seeing wild success on social media, without even having to pay for it, like Ron Paul is seeing in many states and through his constant Facebook, Twitter and YouTube appeals.
Just like governments around the world struggling with the changes that Gov 2.0 has brought through social, mobile and cloud deployments, campaigns and election officials are struggling with new technologies, new rules, and in some cases no rules. The parallels between the sometimes exasperating power struggles in government between those fighting to keep the old way, and those fighting to bring change are quite evident. We have old party officials struggling to make decisions about releasing information into social media channels, just like government officials. We have on the ground campaigns that are each experimenting with new tools and new uses of those tools just like the experimentation going on in and out of governments around the world.
What the Romney campaign does any given day on social media is clearly seen -- same for the Obama campaign or the Paul campaign or any other, as social media in electoral politics provides the same kind of transparency (sometimes) that Gov 2.0 does. What is done behind the scenes with "big data" and analytical crunching will be seen the day after the election; at least the results of whose attempts to utilize data and analytics in combination with social media, mobile and location based services will be seen as we view a winner.