Growing the Database
In 2007, Chris Hughes, one of the four founders of Facebook, left his position at Facebook to work in Chicago on Senator Obama’s new-media campaign. After two months, he was able to dig into Senator Obama’s website, and begin gathering subscriber data. By the time primaries and caucuses began rolling around, Senator Obama’s tech team had gathered emails on a state-by-state basis to ensure they were focusing on the correct voters, at the right times (ie, right before they were to vote in a primary or a caucus).
As the Obama voter database grew, so did the strategy: As Hughes put it, “The point was not to have a million people signed up…[but]…to be able to chop up that million-person list into manageable chunks and organize them.”3 In some primary and caucus states, volunteers used digital media streams – Facebook, blogs, websites, and more importantly, email – to start organizing campaigns weeks, even months, before the campaign staff arrived.