Local politicians have lauded Barack Obama's savvy use of technology to build support — and, in some cases, are already emulating him, writes Niren Tolsi in the Mail & Guardian.


Tech-watchers enthused about his campaign's presence on close to 40 social networking sites, including Facebook, which helped to mobilise and connect supporters and volunteers both in their localities and across the United States.

Volunteers were mobilised or urged to pledge money through his website.

Obama raised more than $600-million for his campaign — more than any presidential candidate in US history — and half of this is estimated to have been in the form of pledges of less than $200 made via the internet.

In addition, Obama's camp monitored blogging sites to test shifts in public opinion and to respond to often vitriolic criticism, while political messages were posted on free video sites such as YouTube.

Obama's announcement that his choice of vice-presidential partner Joe Biden was to be made by text message drew three million phone numbers.

The proposed "Shikota" party uses cellphone pledges and its websites (sanationalconvention.com and novemberconvention.com) to raise funds and interface with people, but it is the DA that seems most open to the use of technology in the build-up to next year's general elections.

The DA's director of relationship management, Anthony Hazell, says electronic electioneering is "definitely a much higher priority than ever before".

In the run-up to the Independent Electoral Commission's voter registration drive on November 8 and 9, the DA recently posted videos of political messages from leader Helen Zille on sites such as YouTube and its South African equivalents, myvideo.com and zoopy.com.

Click here to read the full report, posted on M&G Online.