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Cellular politics: the mobile effect

We all know about the popularity of cell phones. There are over 4 billion cell phone users world wide, and a nearly 2 out of 3 Americans own a smart phone. We are at all-times connected, in-tune and with our ear to the ground.

Cell phones are ubiquitous enough that their internal GPS chips enable smart-phone users to casually track real-time reporting of traffic. Take that, local news. The success of the tech sector in the 21st century has also shown the ubiquity of cellphones. Mobile gaming grosses over $20 billion a year (soon enough surpassing console gaming!) and has helped create the boom in twenty-something year-old multi-millionaires and billionaires. Mobile ad companies of the 2010’s have replicated the Google 2000’s success of using the internet as a proverbial billboard space. Time square is gaudy, but check out that sidebar.

Cell phone usage has affected nearly every facet of 21st century culture – from dating to fitness and finding fast food. It is no surprise then that cell phones have found an important place in revolutionizing the political process.

Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign opened the floodgates and transformed the political realm with his grassroots mobile campaign. Through what was considered an authentic, personalized mobile effort, then Senator Obama was able to engage with millions of Americans in what turned out be a historic nomination. The breadth of their reach through mobile was rumored to be immense, with 2.9million texts sent out to announce Joe Biden as his running mate alone. Secretary Hillary Clinton made it a point to have her website and voter outreach mobile-friendly nearly a year ago – 18 months in advance of the presidential election.

And, the landscape moving forward only sees broadening horizons for politics in the mobile ecosystem.

The approval ratings of traditional, establishment politicians are at historic all-time lows . While many were initially confused at the rise of Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders, there is one common theme of their unpredicted ascents through the political sphere: They advertise themselves as grassroots, populist candidates. So, what better way to engage and spur a movement than to make use of the ubiquity of cell phones? What better way to have a one-on-one conversation with a constituent than to speak through the piece of technology that almost every millennial has on their hip?

These mobile campaigns are a quintessential 21st century extension of technology into our lives.

Our private lives are interwoven with the advents of technology – from the never ending pull of social media to the draws of personal fitness tracking. Issues ranging from civil liberties to national security are consistently politicized, but at the same time we are not dissuaded from checking that instagram post.

From this generation and on, cell phones will increasingly become integrated into our lives.

How will politicians and marketers alike innovate? Will the ads and demographic pandering seem contrite and intrusive? Or, will they permeate into the subconscious, influencing the strata our tendencies and preferences? We will find out inevitably, from 2016 and beyond.

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