By Sarah Lai Stirland
Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States Tuesday night, crowning an improbable two-year climb that owes much of its success to his command of the internet as a fundraising and organizing tool.
Obama won 52 percent of the nation's popular vote, and had a 338-163 advantage in electoral votes Wednesday morning, thanks to victories in several swing and traditionally Republican states. The results are a stunning and hard-won victory for a candidate who began the race as a relative newcomer to the national political stage, and ended it as first African-American to win the White House.
"I was never the likeliest candidate for this office," Obama said in an acceptance speech in Chicago Tuesday night. "We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign ... was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause."
Both Obama and Republican rival John McCain relied on the net to bolster their campaigns. But Obama's online success dwarfed his opponent's, and proved key to his winning the presidency. Volunteers used Obama's website to organize a thousand phone-banking events in the last week of the race -- and 150,000 other campaign-related events over the course of the campaign. Supporters created more than 35,000 groups clumped by affinities like geographical proximity and shared pop-cultural interests. By the end of the campaign, myBarackObama.com chalked up some 1.5 million accounts. And Obama raised a record-breaking $600 million in contributions from more than three million people, many of whom donated through the web.