Obama campaign sharpens tech edge

December 10, 2011

By Richard McGregor, Financial Times

Working from his office in a nondescript skyscraper in downtown Chicago, Michael Slaby carries a title more suited to a Fortune 500 company than a body organising the scrappy street-by-street battle for votes in a presidential election campaign.

But as chief integration and innovation officer at Barack Obama’s campaign 2012 headquarters, Mr Slaby is part of what may become one of the most formidable and sophisticated electoral machines ever built.

“There is no magic tech bullet. This is about involving people on the ground in their communities,” he says. “And we build and maintain those relationships better than anyone else.”

The open-plan campaign office still looks like an internet start-up, matching the atmosphere that Mr Obama inspired in 2008, when he was the Google-style candidate against Mrs Clinton’s Microsoft and Mr McCain’s IBM. But the 2012 campaign will have far higher hurdles to surmount than the one of four years ago.

Mr Obama’s 2008 campaign broke new ground on numerous fronts, raising huge amounts of money through the internet and using the resulting data base to generate a grassroots turnout that bypassed traditional Democratic machines.

While Mr Obama was the self-styled head of a movement in 2008 and his rivals could be painted as mere politicians, he now wears the scars of office, as a president who has presided over a lacklustre economy and high unemployment.

Campaign staff are trying to update the modern machine they created in 2008, with the luxury of time they lacked then, when they were locked in a strung-out campaign for the nomination against Mrs Clinton.

To read more, visit:  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b2e7043c-2284-11e1-923d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1g8WgGrSq

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