It’s the data, stoopid

This morning’s Observer column.

Which brings us to the Obama election campaign. In 2008, it was obvious that his people were significantly more internet-savvy than the McCain-Palin crowd. (Not that that would have been too difficult.) Obama harnessed the internet to crowdsource fundraising, for example, and used social media to get the vote out. And he used YouTube to bypass the TV networks and get his message directly to voters – as with A More Perfect Union, his Philadelphia speech tackling the problems raised for him by the inflammatory views of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. A More Perfect Union is a long (37-minute), serious speech which would have been reduced to a set of soundbites by the TV networks. By using YouTube, Obama ensured that millions of US voters heard his unexpurgated version.

But none of this was rocket science. The interesting question this time was what the Obama crowd would do next. Now we know, thanks to a fascinating piece of reporting by Michael Scherer in Time, published just after the election result was clear. Basically, it comes down to numbers…