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As the race for the Whitehouse comes to an end, voters’ support for their candidate only increases. See how others have taken charge and voiced their opinions at Jershey Shore For Obama.

With over 300 members, the forum is always active. Recent posts discuss the economy, local demonstrations and poll results. Members also connect with groups from their own area or interests like Women for Obama and Monmouth County for Obama.

On top of the 40+ events Network Creator Bob Tanner has posted to gain support for Obama, Bob also started the membership challenge. The challenge solicits members’ help to spread the network’s cause and bring more supporters to Jersey Shore For Obama.

When members aren’t busy spreading the word, they stay on top of the latest news with the network’s updated Obama-related headlines, campaign event listings and local political websites.  To find out more about Jersey Shore For Obama, read on for our interview with Bob Tanner.

Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Bob Tanner and I am from Toms River, N.J.

What made you decide to create this network?
I got fed up with the MyBO.com website as it didn’t allow for a variety of functions such as coordination and communication among members. Ning provided the solution. Not only did it do everything that MyBO.com did but it also allowed for more interaction among the community.

What’s its goal or purpose?
The purpose of our site is to provide a place for members in the Jersey Shore area who are supporters or
possible supporters of Barack Obama (but also anyone else interested in helping out or just providing useful information) a stomping ground to meet up, coordinate events, spread the word or talk amongst each other.

Describe the most surprising thing that has happened on the network.
I really only expected the site to have a couple of members. The MyBO site had this annoying listserv that people got carried away with and my inbox was maxed out all the time from people trying to coordinate everything via email. I created the site and loads of people signed up and took control. It was a great thing because my only goal was to provide a place for everyone and allow the community to dictate where the site went and that is exactly what has happened.

What makes the Ning platform well-suited for political networks?
It’s great. As I mentioned before, Ning provides everything all in one package. Most political sites that I have browsed around have a couple of the features that Ning has but not everything. They all lack some
key aspect. Ning allows those supporters to feel like they are part of the campaign. It allows them to find others with similar thoughts. It helps people coordinate events. It gives people the opportunity to
voice their feelings and get constructive feedback. It gives the community the resources it needs to help the campaign. And, with some skill or help, it can be configured to do just about anything you want
it to do.

How has your network allowed your members to rally and connect in ways that wouldn’t be possible without the network?
Like I said before, MyBO.com only had a listserv. Unfortunately, since they can become very annoying, people tend to opt out of receiving emails. Because of this, those people who opted out can miss some very useful information and miss the opportunity to help support the campaign. Ning provided us with the ability to create a network that people can post messages without the annoying inbox clutter. If people want to see what’s going on in their neighborhood or find out some information, they can go to
the site instead of sifting through loads of emails.

How can political movements, causes and candidates better use technology and the Internet?
I think political campaigns are just beginning to realize the power of the internet and what it can provide them. Barack Obama has done a wonderful job with his online presence and, because of this, has dominated in online fundraising and support. I believe that in the future, more and more politicians will mimic his online campaign strategy to suit their needs.

Any advice for aspiring Network Creators who want to use Ning for a political cause?
My advice is to research what Ning can do for you and see if it fits your needs. If you only plan on providing information on a candidate then Ning might not be for you. However, if you want to create a community of supporters and provide them a place of interaction information can be shared and coordinated, Ning is the place to be. Also, if you plan on it being very active, get a partner. Luckily I am able to turn to my fellow supporter Kathy to help run the site when I don’t have the time. She is a great administer and furthers my purpose for the community.

What will happen to the network after Election Day?
I’m not exactly sure. Since the site is mainly geared around the campaign for the candidate, we may get rid of it. However, in its absence, we may create a new site that provides a place for people to either agree or disagree with the new president and voice their opinions. Still not too sure though.

The biggest surprise we’ll see on election day?
Of course, I think it will be an Obama win.