All Politics is Mobile

As candidates, campaigns and the pundits who love them pour over the electoral college map and latest poll numbers from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, a new battleground is emerging in this presidential election cycle--one just as likely to determine our next Commander in Chief. From Donald Trump's social media engagement to Hillary Clinton's data-driven ground game, mobile innovation is upending the 2016 presidential campaign.

A new Mobile Future infographic makes the case that this year's revolution will not only be televised, but Snapchatted, Instagrammed and more. Consider these telling facts:

• In 2008, when then-Senator Barack Obama first ran for the highest office, just $22 million was spent on digital advertising. That figure is expected to exceed $1 billion in this cycle, with roughly half allocated to social/mobile engagement.

• Candidates also are raising millions through small mobile contributions. Contrast that to 2008, when campaigns did not accept contributions via mobile.

• In 2008, now-President Obama was cutting edge for announcing his VP pick via Twitter. Beyond the spectacle Twitter has become in this election cycle, campaigns also are reaching out via Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook to help rock the vote.

• Mobile's also gone mainstream in terms of how voters get their news. According to Pew Research Center, users of Reddit (70 percent), Facebook (66 percent) and Twitter (59 percent) are most likely to stay informed via social sites.

• Perhaps the biggest opportunity for voter engagement via wireless exists in minority communities, where Hispanics and African-Americans lead in both smartphone adoption and usage. The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates 67 percent of Hispanics and 60 percent of African-Americans typically visit political sites on their mobile device--well above the 49 percent national average.

• Campaigns are even taking a page from marketing agencies, using big data systems to increase voter turnout. By targeting everything from regional demographics to personal voting history, candidates can more effectively allocate canvassers, phone calls and messaging. Indeed, one source estimates that effective use of big data could swing the 2016 election results by up to three points.

Thanks to mobile technology, voters in 2016 have a more direct connection to future would-be commanders-in-chief. Regardless of what you think about that evolution, it's clear that wireless is providing all connected Americans with a myriad of opportunities to be more informed and engaged participants in our democracy if they want. That's a good thing. Now if only we could swipe right to vote.