Obama victory credited to digital advice of strategist Axelrod

LONDON - The success of Barack Obama's election campaign has been in part credited to a 21st-century digital media strategy driven by David Axelrod, the newly elected president's chief strategist.

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Axelrod oversaw an electoral campaign that successfully enlisted hard to reach parts of the US electorate such as young voters, African-American and Latino voters, and first time voters, through an all encompassing digital campaign, which placed a heavy emphasis on social media through websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Axelrod and Obama's high-profile campaign manager David Plouffe, who made appearances in many of Obama's YouTube videos such as the one below, used text messages, the internet and a network of 1.5m volunteers, to overpower John McCain's Republicans in a series of battleground states.

The two Democrat strategists are based in Chicago, where they run a Democratic consultancy called AKP&D, founded by Axelrod.

Obama's victory was celebrated across the internet on social networking sites and blogs. He was rewarded with, among other things, avatars dancing in the virtual world of Second Life to mark the win.

Axelrod has also been applauded for expanding the map of battleground states to give Obama the advantage of several routes to success.

He told US TV networks: "One of our advantages is states like Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana.

"We believed in them from the get-go, and the McCain campaign did not. And so, we had a two, three, sometimes four-month head start."

This advantage meant that Obama cruised to victory in a more comfortable manner than he needed to, racking up at least 349 electoral votes compared with the 270 he needed to secure the presidency in the Electoral College system.

The Obama campaign was also given a huge boost by the scale of its financial clout, which overshadowed the amount of money McCain had at his disposal.

Early on in the election, Obama controversially decided to forgo public financing, which imposes spending limits in return for matching federal money. In doing so, Obama raised huge sums of money on the internet through public donations.

An illustration of the enormous spending power and flexibility wielded by the Democrats came last month when Obama blocked booked 30-minutes of prime time space on major networks to air an extended infomercial.

In the end, the Obama campaign raised $640 million (£405 million), while McCain, who was a participant in the federal system which caps total general election spending at $84m (£50m), had an impossible task matching Obama's election blitz.

Read about the US presidential election in Brand Republic blog Electioneering Stateside.

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