Obama Supporters Sick of Campaign Spam

December 18, 2008 03:01 PM
by Isabel Cowles
President-elect Barack Obama has not yet determined how best to use his vast online network, prompting some supporters to become annoyed by an ongoing flood of e-mails and solicitations.

Re: Barack Obama

President-elect Barack Obama is off the campaign trail, but his online solicitations keep on coming.

Many members of Obama’s massive e-mail list are getting tired of regularly receiving solicitations for contributions—especially since the race was won more than a month ago. The focused campaign message once delivered by e-mails from the Obama team has fractured into what Politico calls a, “jumble of sometimes disparate-feeling fundraising pitches, YouTube videos and calls for activism.”

Obama and his staff are still determining how to effectively use the surfeit of contacts collected during what is considered the most successful online campaign in history. The team collected about 13 million e-mail addresses and sent more than 7,000 e-mails over the course of the campaign. Some 1 million supporters signed up to receive text message alerts, which the campaign used to send approximately 20 messages per month, The Washington Post reported in November.

Since the election, members of the network have received e-mails begging for support for struggling communities, sales pitches for commemorative Obama ’08 paraphernalia and, most noticeably, solicitations for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). 

Simon Rosenberg, founder of NDN, a left-leaning think tank and a proponent of Internet-savvy politicking, told NPR earlier this month that most presidents-elect turn their campaign networks over to the national party committee once the race has been won, but that the gesture might not be appropriate in Obama’s case, as much of his campaign was based on bipartisan appeal.

According to Rosenberg, not everyone on the list would consider helping the Democratic Party as equivalent to helping Obama; an individual may still want to get involved in the new administration, but “just as a citizen, regardless of their political party, who’ll want to help potentially on a single issue.”

Obama staffers think the problem will resolve itself in January: Joe Rospars, Obama's Internet director, told Politico that online communications would become “more systematized once [Obama is] in government.”

However, some civilian members of Obama’s network are more than a little annoyed by the continued requests for money and other assistance. In her article, “The Audacity of E-mail,” Dahlia Lithwick of Slate wrote, “I really am going to miss seeing ‘Barack Obama’ in my inbox three times a day. But … please stop e-mailing to ask for money. You're president-elect now, Barack. Consider yourself cut-off.”

Background: Obama helps DNC fill its coffers

The DNC has historically struggled to compete with the funding available to the Republican National Committee. Nevertheless, Obama’s vast network of donors has begun to close the gap somewhat.

An article published by The Boston Globe in July noted that the DNC had a fundraising average of $5.4 million per month from January to May of 2008. After Obama became the presumptive nominee on June 3, the DNC reported $22.4 million in contributions, thanks to combined fundraising efforts from Obama and the Democratic Party.

Despite the success of its candidate, the DNC continued to lag behind its Republican counterpart, even through the election. For example, though it appeared during the campaign that Obama would enter the race with a considerably fuller purse than his rival, Ariz. Sen. John McCain, a look at the financial standings of each party proved otherwise, noted a findingDulcinea article from Nov. 3.

According to Bloomberg, the RNC, “headed into the final three weeks of the presidential campaign with more than $59 million to spend, while its Democratic counterpart had $11 million.”

Reference: Obama Online

Visit Change.gov, the official Web site of President-elect Barack Obama, for information on his cabinet and transitional efforts.

Obama’s official campaign Web site, MyBarackObama.com, is the vehicle through which millions of supporters connected with the campaign.

Related Topic: Obama spam; Obama’s inbox

In October, The Wall Street Journal suggested that Obama’s online popularity could be judged not just through financial contributions, but also through spam. The publication reported that as late as Oct. 7, John McCain’s name was used more often in the subject line than Barack Obama’s to lure people into reading bogus e-mails. After that date, however, Obama’s name was more prominently featured as a ploy for readership.

The Onion provided a satirical glimpse at Barack Obama’s Gmail inbox in September.

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