Like many too-plugged in Americans, my cell phone has not left my side for three days, as I wait for the text message announcing Barack Obama’s running mate. I have kept it by my bedside in case the announcement comes before my alarm goes off. I take it on my morning constitutional as I walk along the river near my home. The cell phone goes with me to the gym and the grocery store.
Why the wait? I am no expert at news cycles, and I could not think of any good reason why Obama was waiting all week to let the rest of know what he has decided. Yesterday, the news of McCain’s inability to recall how many houses he had was the kind of story you don’t want to step on, but once this morning’s news shows were over, surely the announcement would be forthcoming. But, then it hit me. The excitement of the wait is not only good drama, but as every hour passes, more and more people are probably signing up to receive the text message from Obama headquarters. The whole reason for this unique method of announcing the Veep choice was not a fetish for novelty. Everyone who signs up has to give their cell phone number to the campaign. You can bet that on election day, all those cell phones will receive another text message: Did you remember to vote? For the difficult to reach youth vote, which has heretofore been underrepresented at the polling booth, this drawn out wait is a brilliant way of ensuring that the campaign will be able to remind them to vote two months from now.
Someone in Chicago is keeping track of the rate at which newcomers are signing up to receive the Veep news by text message. As soon as that rate flatlines, we can expect an announcement.
Michael Sean Winters