During the recent campaign of President Barack Obama, a large amount of data was collected that included almost 13.5 million email addresses of voters and their corresponding information. He also has a large network of campaign volunteers and a database of small campaign contributors. Now that Obama is president once more, officials are trying to figure out what to do with this network of people and information.
Some officials have recommended the use of campaign supporters to help support the president’s legislative agenda. But now that Obama is no longer in need of campaign running data, his officials are trying to figure out what they should do with the voter information over the long term.
All of the voter information that was gathered during the campaign will be transferred to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The committee could use this information to help future Democratic candidates. One option that has been discussed is to keep the information for the president. The reason for this being that each voter has a score assigned to them which indicates how likely they are to support or oppose the president and what issues they care about the most. Officials are still not sure how a network that was built around the President’s appeal will be able to transfer to other candidates in an effective manner, or if any of the voters or volunteers would even be open to such a move. In fact, they are still trying to figure out how the DNC is going to cover the cost of keeping all of this voter information up to date.
One Democratic official suggested creating a new organization to maintain and update this information. Although this organization would be associated more personally with the President, it would give the President some leverage in helping to select the next Democratic presidential nominee. The President’s campaign team has let it be known that they still want to help to keep supporters engaged in political matters. The manager of Obama’s presidential re-election campaign, Jim Messina, emailed supporters asking for suggestions in which they could continue to support the President while he serves his second term in office. This email included an email asking what supporters thought the campaign organization’s top priority should be. Options that were listed for this question included supporting future democratic candidates, doing work on local issues or helping to pass the legislative agenda of the President. The email also included a question that asked whether supporters were willing to help the president on issues such as immigration, the fiscal cliff and campaign-finance reform.
Officials on the President’s team had mixed results attempting to turn campaign supporters into political aid after the 2008 election. This was in part due to the fact that some supporters believed the President had compromised some of his views. He will have to make similar compromises again during his next term. For example: Republicans refuse to agree to tax increases if the president does not make cuts to entitlement spending. According to Democratic consultant, Steve Elmendorf, the process of campaigning is very different from the legislative process, which makes the campaign network less valuable after the election.
According to many experts, the database of voter information and the network of campaign supporters will only be valuable if it is kept up to date, which is an expensive task. The challenge is trying to figure out how to make the best use of this information, and it’s something that needs to be figured out soon.