No matter whom or what you're voting for, the cell phone has earned a place as an effective campaign weapon in 2008. It's probably little known that Hillary and John Edwards put their cell phone campaigns into effect before Obama did. Obama, in a smart move, launched a text message initiative to supporters and potential volunteers, asking them to text GO to 62262 (Obama)--the power of branding.
To date, the McCain campaign has not embraced mobile marketing. The tech savvy Obama campaign targeted the 60% of Americans that use text messaging. He delivered 2.9 million text messages to announce Joe Biden as his running mate, offered free ringtones from speeches, as well as information covering donations and volunteering for his campaign. Finally, the Obama campaign database is regionalized--making it very easy to rally attendees for local appearances.
So is the concept that effective? You bet. According to a study by the University of Michigan and Princeton University, using text messages to remind voters to vote yielded a 6% increase among young voters--a group that has been said may be lighter than expected in this race. In this election, U.S. government surveys indicate that as many as 17% of adults are 'cell phone only' households.
Hidden from the polls is potentially the real impact of text messaging. In a September survey conducted on cell phones only, Obama led McCain by 55% to 36%. In two simultaneous landline surveys--the means used by the majority of polls--candidates were tied at 45%. Another combined poll, cell phones and landline, showed little difference in the two candidates, just a few percentage points.
Outside of the presidential race, some recipient registered voters are frustrated with a barrage of robocalls hitting their cell phones causing not just the unwanted interruption, but charges as well. Candidates and those intending to sway voters to certain issues need to heed the frustration. It seems that texting is one thing--the level of direct calls and unwanted expense is rapidly turning people off.