After the online political explosion of 2008, it’s natural to assume the 2012 presidential cycle will be strongly affected by use of social media like Facebook and Twitter.
But as Ken Thomas of AP explains in an early analysis of 2012 campaign technology usages, it may be new and functionally useful apps rather than social media that will make the key difference:
While social media may generate new interest in 2012, technology could play an important role in the more mundane, shoe-leather work of registering new voters and turning them out.
In 2008, campaign supporters who knocked on doors of potential voters largely used paper “walk sheets” that were printed out at local headquarters. The results of the door-to-door meetings were keyed into databases to guide the campaign’s work to persuade voters on Obama’s behalf.
This time, the campaign is exploring ways of streamlining the process, from bringing more uniformity to how the information is taken down and entered into a database to using mobile devices, tablet computers or improvements to the website to help volunteers find key households or input data gathered at doorsteps. The approach could save time and help the campaign be more strategic about the households it targets.
The Democratic National Committee, for example, experimented with an app in 2010 that used global positioning systems to help canvassers find targeted households in certain neighborhoods, something that could be used more broadly in the presidential campaign.
New tools for old school tasks may be the wave of the immediate future.