Monday, September 1, 2008

Campaign Strategy: A few quick clicks

Name: David Dangelico

Race: Caucasian

Gender: Male

Age: 21

Hometown: Wilmington, North Carolina

Education: Senior, Political Science Major, UNCW

Current Occupation: UNCW Campus Chair, Students for Obama

                                        Volunteer, Obama for America

L: How big of a role would you say technology plays in your everyday life, as well as currently with your career in campaigning?

D: I'd say it plays a large role in every aspect of my life. Especially in the campaign process, as a lot of what I do is centered around constantly being in contact with my superiors, other volunteers and being up-to-date on the most recent developments.

L: What would you say are the top two most valuable pieces of technology to your career and why?

D:  I would have to say the VoteBuilder program is the most valuable, then definitely my BlackBerry.

L: What is the VoteBuilder program?

D: The VoteBuilder program is a database that political campaigns, and specifically the Obama campaign, use in order to access up-to-date voter information. A large part of my job is voter registration; getting people registered to go out to the polls in November, as well as voter persuasion. When a person is registered to vote, and he or she puts down their political affiliation as either Democrat or Unaffiliated, his or her information is put into VoteBuilder. VoteBuilder keeps track of e-mail addresses and contact information for those who have expressed interest in Obama's campaign. Our volunteers as well as myself then log into VoteBuilder and make phone calls, and use the information found on VoteBuilder to acquire volunteers, grow support and easily distribute information, such as where one-stop early voting takes place, to voters.

L: Where did this program come from, and why do you think it was created?

D: VoteBuilder is part of a series of programs called Election Central, created specifically with political campaigns in mind. What I like about it is that each page of the program can be customized to fit just my needs. If I'm in charge of making phone calls one week, it can be arranged so that all the names and phone numbers I need are displayed clearly for me.

L: You identified the second most important piece of technology as your BlackBerry. What role does it play in your campaigning schedule?


D: While I am a new to my BlackBerry--or if we're on the street, Crackberry-- I'm already addicted. It's essential because it keeps me in touch with everyone 24/7. If something happens on the campaign trail, I don't have to wait to get to a computer or T.V. to get the news. My BlackBerry has Wi-Fi, so it doesn't depend on typical cell phone service coverage. Wherever I can connect to a wireless network, I have immediate access to my e-mail, the internet--VoteBuilder in particular. With the two, I can make important campaign calls between classes, or while walking around BestBuy.

L: How do you think technologies--like VoteBuilder and BlackBerry--have changed the way political campaigns are run? Have they made campaigns more or less successful?

D: I think that they've both made it tremendously successful in every way. VoteBuilder makes it easier for us to know who to reach. Before programs like that, it was knock on every door, call every number--which really wasted a lot of time. It has allowed those of us who work in the campaign field--as well as many other occupations--to reach more people in less time. BlackBerrys--cell phones in general--give us a mobility that we never had. I don't have to sit at my desk and make calls on a phone that's connected to the wall. I can go anywhere and still be able to reach and be reached by whoever I want. We also reach voters via text message, with alerts and information, so with a few easy clicks we can contact supporters in the community and around the country without ever actually talking.

L: In what ways have they changed your personal experiences as a campaigner?

Well, I'd have to say that internet in general opens so many doors for getting the truth out there. As made obvious by my occupation, I am an Obama supporter whose father is a staunch Republican refusing to consider putting a Democrat in office, for fear of many things, but namely an increase in his taxes. The other day one of my superiors gave me the web address for, a website that allows viewers to input their own personal tax information and an e-calculator then calculates the amount of money that Obama's tax cuts will provide for them. I sent my father this link via e-mail on my BlackBerry and within minutes, he was texting me about the website and how it calculated he would actually save almost a thousand dollars with Obama's plan. His response was, "Well this certainly makes Obama more appealing." That fact is ground-breaking coming from someone who has argued politics with me since I was sixteen. It astounds me as I think about how easy we have it now, compared to how difficult it must have been for die-hard campaigners of the past. But, I'm just glad we're able to get the Truth out, and that people are getting excited about the next President of the United States, Barack Obama.

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