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Presidential Elections in the Internet Era

The Internet is all grown up, and now has an impact on matters of great importance, such as the current presidential race.

How, for example, did a Barack Obama, a relatively unknown and young Senator from Illinois, in less than two years venture from completely off of the national radar screen to become the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States? Well, if you asked some his supporters, they might say "It's the Internet, Stupid!"

Senator Obama's campaign has raised many millions of dollars. The momentum he has gained caused 80,000 people to show up in a stadium last week, not to watch the Superbowl or to attend a major rock concert, but instead to listen to a political speech - a speech that also was viewed across the United States and around the world by countless people. How did this meteoric rise to prominence from relative obscurity happen?

Of course, Senator Obama's brilliant oratory and charisma has put quite a bit of wind in his sails. But he still has had to get his message out. How has he done that? Well, in this day and age, the Internet has been a great ally.

Senator Obama's campaign has benefited greatly from its Web site Indeed, the site proudly claims that its supporters "have built the largest grassroots movement in the history presidential politics."

The robust site has many sections and contains ample content. The "Meet the Candidate" section profiles Senator Obama, covering his early years, his time in college and law school, as well as his political career.

The "Issues" section covers a myriad of topics, including in alphabetical order: civil rights, defense, disabilities, the economy, education, energy and the environment, ethics, faith, family, foreign policy, healthcare, homeland security, immigration, Iraq, poverty, Social Security, technology, urban policy, veterans, and women. Senator Obama's views on matters relating to these topics are covered in this section.

The site contains a blog section, where interactive comments can be posted. It also has a Media section, where news articles relating to Senator Obama and his campaign are provided.

Making Senator Obama more accessible and relatable to his supporters, the site has video clips of his speeches. The site also provides information relating to Senator Joseph Biden, Obama's choice for Vice President.

The site also has an "Action" section that provides information and guidance to those who want to get involved in helping the campaign in terms of various functions and at specified events.

Of course, the site provides instructions and enables supporters to donate money to the campaign. Without question, this approach has been very successful.

And, not to be lost in the shuffle, the site has a "Store," where everything from shirts, hats, buttons, posters, bumper stickers and water bottles adorned with campaign logos and language can be purchased to further help raise money and to spread the word even farther.

The Internet is here to stay when it comes to presidential politics. It certainly has worked to the advantage of Senator Obama, and other recent candidates, and it will continue to do so going forward.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is and he can be reached at To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line.

This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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