Project Details

Crowd at Presdient Obama's Election Night Rally wave USA flags


Linking politicians, people, campaigns and citizens.

By Organizing for Action

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @barackobama

Organisation URL:

  • Community Engagement
  • Data
  • Social Software

Politicians are at risk of becoming marooned, cut off from voters who conduct more of their lives through the unfamiliar world of social media. One of the most ambitious efforts to close that gap is the Dashboard suite of tools created by the team that supported President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.

Each of the last three presidential elections has produced a step change in the way digital technology is used for political engagement. In 2004 Howard Dean’s insurgent, grass roots campaign for the Democratic nomination highlighted how those with few resources could use the viral, self-organising power of the web to make an impact. In 2008, President Obama’s first campaign unlocked the web as a fundraising tool, pulling in millions of small donations.

In 2012, Obama’s team went a step further with Dashboard. This is an integrated database linking 190 million voter records to details of Obama’s 25 million fans on Facebook, and the email addresses of 23 million supporters from previous campaigns. The Dashboard sets new standards for how digital technology can be used to re-engage people with politics.

Obama supporters were encouraged to volunteer through Facebook pages which automatically uploaded their details to the central database. That then generated personalised messages for them and their friends. Campaigners on the ground could access the Dashboard to find potential supporters in their neighbourhood. Data they gathered door-to-door was uploaded in real-time to the Dashboard. The mass of information generated by these online and offline interactions gave the campaign team of statisticians, pollsters and predictive modellers the mass of raw data they needed to spot emerging movements and trends in the electorate.

Dashboard is an example of how politicians and people, campaigns and citizens can be linked in real-time by an interactive flow of information.

Image 'President Obama's Election Night Rally' courtesy Kevin Gebhardt

Last updated: 09th of May, 2014

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