The Politics of Text Messaging

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will tap text messaging via short code this weekend as a part of his political campaign. By texting “Gov” to 50555, supporters will receive event rally information during the California GOP convention this weekend. He is the first gubernatorial candidate to tap SMS and short codes in a U.S. campaign.

However, he’s not the first candidate this year to deploy SMS short codes. That credit appears to go to embattled Senator Rick Santorum, currently trying to hold onto his Pennsylvania seat. By using short code messaging, political candidates can now tap on a regional, and national basis for call-to-arms campaigning. In addition, it creates extremely valuable lists of cell phone supporters… not an easy task since political strategists have found difficulty in penetrating the cell phone user demographic when it comes to election day.

2006 appears to be a breakthrough year for text messaging in political campaigns. With all national carriers now endorsing SMS fully (as well as SMS short codes), anyone with a wireless phone is now a text messaging target. Previous campaigns could not fully tap SMS; Sprint was only beginning to transition to SMS, and Nextel (which did not have SMS interoperability at the time) had not yet been purchased by Sprint.