Will the US election be won online?

So, it’s election day in the USA – and the world awaits the decision of the voters. Will it be McCain or Obama? The latest polls put Obama ahead by at least 5%.

Already this is being hailed as the election that was won online. There are plenty of election blogs around as well as dedicated election sections of traditional newspapers. We hear that Obama has raised most of his campaign funds via online donations and that millions of people have watched the TV debates via YouTube rather than on a normal TV set.

So, it’s all online is it? No. The online activity is merely an extension of how we have always decided to vote – by talking to each other. The conversations we are having online are just adding to the conversations we have offline. After all, you’re reading this right now, but I could be saying it directly – indeed I have done…!

That’s the “thing” that a lot of businesses don’t get, but Obama clearly does understand. The Internet is just an extension of talking to people. Remember, Obama is a former community organizer in the public housing sector; that means he has experience in connecting with people and getting them together to achieve things. This could well be why he and his team have a slightly different approach to the Internet than McCain who has a more “traditional” web approach.

In other words, what Obama is teaching people in business is that if you treat the Internet as a way in which you can have a conversation with people, you can make significant strides forward. People don’t want a brochure, or your side of the story – instead they want to get involved. In a time when the world is supposedly disengaging with politics, Obama has managed to get more people involved with his campaign than any other presidential candidate. He has done that by simply using the Internet as a means of talking WITH people, rather than AT people. Most businesses who fail online are talking AT people. Even if Obama loses tonight, he will have taught business owners a real good lesson.

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