Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Coakley vs Brown Online: Tracking the MA Senate Special Election

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, January 15 2010

Next Tuesday's special election in Massachusetts to fill the remaining three years of Ted Kennedy's term in the U.S. Senate is drawing a lot of attention, not only as the latest test of the national political winds, but also because if Republican Scott Brown defeats Democrat Martha Coakley, the Democrats will be down to 59 votes in the Senate (counting the two independents) and the health care bill may die on the vine. Both national parties are pouring money and troops into the state and the polls suggest it could be a close race. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to see what the online metrics might tell us about next Tuesday's vote. And on the face of it, Brown is surging.

On Facebook, Coakley has 10,454 fans at the moment, vs 49,086 for Brown. That's quite a lead for Brown and shows he's definitely caught the awareness of the right-roots.

On YouTube, both candidates have active pages. Brown has had about 340,000 views in all of his videos, and the top one, a response ad to an ad from Coakley attacking him, has gotten nearly 90,000 views in four days. Coakley has had just over 38,000 views of her videos, not nearly 1/10 Brown's total, though her most popular video, "Lockstep Republican," has gotten 20,000 in the three days since it's been up. (It's worth noting that her top viewed video has a pretty low average rating of 1.8 vs Brown's 4.5--a hint that of where online energy resides.)

On Twitter, Coakley has 2,795 followers vs Brown's 7,815. Here's how conversation about the two candidates stacks up on Trendistic for the last 30 days (#masen is the generic tag):

Blogpulse shows rising mentions of both candidates in the blogosphere, with references to Brown trending higher:

Here's Compete.com's tracking of monthly visits to the Coakley and Brown websites. It looks close, but keep in mind that Compete's data is monthly and we don't have the January data yet:

From these metrics, one could conclude that Coakley is running a much weaker campaign online, and that online activists are much more excited about Brown. But over on ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising hub, there are several efforts gathering small donations for Coakley, and nearly 10,000 people have donated more than $850,000 to her campaign through the site. I'd share Republican online fundraising numbers if there were any to share.

A key question about all these numbers is how much translates into interest and activity on the ground in-state. It's difficult to use the internet to get at that question, but here's one harbinger: organic search on Google from people in Massachusetts appears to favor Brown over Coakley. (See below.) Is it voters checking out the newcomer, or getting comfortable with their decision to support him? We'll know a lot more on Tuesday.

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

GO

tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

GO

monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

GO

The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

GO

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

More