The other day I thought, “I just don’t have enough Obama in my life.” Then I found out about the Obama application for the iPhone and realized I could, in fact, plug that giant “O” into one more place it hasn’t yet taken over. The app, though, doesn’t just put a logo on my screen. It’s a slick grassroots program that uses every bit of the phone’s capabilities to turn out more voters for Barack Obama.
When you first open the program you see a list of ways to get more involved with the campaign. Topping that list is, not surprisingly, “Call Friends.” Now this is cool — the application will get all of the contacts on the iPhone and, according to the app, it “organizes and prioritizes your contacts by key battleground states, making it easy to reach out and make an impact quickly… Only the number of calls you make is uploaded anonymously.” The list starts, of course, with Colorado, and I’d love to see the formula for how the campaign prioritized the rest of the country.
The “Getting Involved” section uses the iPhone’s stalker GPS feature to automatically retrieve the phone’s location and then display contact information for the closest Obama campaign office. I can automatically get directions there from the built-in Google maps program or e-mail the information to a friend. “Local Events” uses my location to display a list of nearby phone banks, canvases and some random meetups like “Parents for Obama.” (Incidentally, finding this event on the Obama Web site took far more clicks than on the iPhone, even though I knew exactly what I was looking for.) I counted 19 events going on just today, most of them within only a few miles of my apartment.
“Receive Updates,” lets me sign up for e-mails or text messages from the campaign. I already get too many of both, so no need for me to use this one. “Issues,” as expected, provides in depth information on Obama’s positions covering a broad range of issues — helpful, I’m sure, for all those phone calls the app asks you to make.
I put the iPhone’s YouTube connection to work next. With just a few taps in the “News” section I loaded a video on the Rural Colorado tour. Naturally, the “news” comes direct from the Obama campaign and only includes reporting that reflects well on the candidate. Fine with me since the campaign paid to build the thing. I can always surf over to Fox News for the other stuff. Similarly, the “Media” section has what looks like the Obama YouTube feed, and photos whose source I can’t quite figure out. Random assortment, that’s for sure.
The app did kick me back to the iPhone’s main screen a few times in the short time I played around with it, but overall this thing is darn slick. Most importantly, it could have a real impact on the election. If enough people use it to call their friends…well, I’d take my friend’s advice to vote for Obama before I listened to some random phone bank volunteer.
The application has been available for download from the iTunes store since Sept. 27. It’s the most popular app in the “News” section and No. 43 counting all of the free apps. Incidentally, the campaign provides stats on all calls made using the iPhone app — as of 3 p.m. today 24,277 calls had been made, with 6,452 “active callers.” I’d call that one hell of a grassroots program.
Colorado Independent’s blogumnist (blogger-columnist) Jeff Bridges has worked in Democratic politics for the last 10 years, serving as communications director for two congressional races in Colorado and two governors races in the Deep South. Bridges also worked as a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C., with a focus on military and small-business issues.