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Daily Digest: 10/16/07

BY Joshua Levy | Tuesday, October 16 2007

The Web on the Candidates

  • Although he is clearly not friendly to their agenda, Ron Paul has been attracting support from web-based neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, writes the Huffington Post’s Thomas Edsall (he also attracted their attention in 1996). Even though he doesn’t espouse their racialist views, most are attracted to his anti-IRS and anti-trade policies. The campaign has been sure to distance themselves. These groups have “nothing to do with Ron Paul, and what he stands for… His message of freedom, peace and prosperity — that’s why people support him,” Paul communications director Jesse Benton told Edsall. But the unwanted support may be an inevitable outgrowth of giving control of your message to your supporters, writes Election Geek. It “might seem like a great idea at first but when messages are not vetted by an official source, it is only a matter of time before some people rise up and exploit them,” he says.

  • Last week Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, complained that Google had banned her online ad because it was critical of Google said it rejected the ad because it infringed on MoveOn’s copyright, a practice that, as Wired’s Sarah Lai Stirland notes, “far exceeds the requirements of trademark law.” And Robert Cox, who broke the story, noted that Google has routinely allowed the unauthorized use of other company names. Now, MoveOn has asked Google to allow Collins (and anyone else) to use their name. “MoveOn believes in freedom of speech and expression. Since we’ve learned that political speech about MoveOn was made more difficult due to this trademark registration, we’ve asked Google to opt us out [of] it,” MoveOn’s Jennifer Lindenauer told Wired.

  • Perhaps 2008 won’t be remembered as the Year of the Internet in politics but rather… the Year of the Gimmick, opines the New York Times’ Julie Bosman. She cites Mitt Romney’s video contest, Hillary Clinton’s theme song vote, John Edwards’ Eventful contest, and Chris Dodd’s Red Sox game invitation (er, scratch that last one) as proof that the candidates are into political stunts. I’m not sure the use of gimmicks is new, however; we just have the intertubes to make them more fun.

The Candidates on the Web

  • Al Gore may say he isn’t running for president, but since he co-won the Nobel Peace Prize last week he’s been posting short videos diaries on major issues on Current, the web arm of his Current TV network that sure seem like he’s positioning himself for something. In one video, Gore says we need to bring the troops home from Iraq ASAP; in another he tells us that he supports universal health care. These are major issues worthy of a presidential campaign — so why is he posting them now? Meanwhile, the blogosphere is going nuts with speculation; on our Technorati charts he's literally of the chart!

  • The New York Times’ Katherine Seelye follows up on her recent column about women and politics with a second installment. This time, she’s interested in how the candidates are trying to reach online women. One strategy is to find out women’s surfing habits — they like to visit health sites, for example — so Mitt Romney
    director of e-strategy (and onetime techPresident contributor) Mindy Finn says they’ll be advertising against “women-related key words.” Meanwhile, John Edwards is courting online moms at hubs like, and Elizabeth Edwards recently chatted with moms at the Silicon Valley Moms blog. One (over-generalized) lesson to take away: on the Internet, men like to talk about guns and war and women prefer health and motherhood.

  • Hillary Clinton is starting to dominate online as well as offline. New numbers from Nielsen show that Clinton led all of the candidates with 759,000 unique visitors to her web site, trailed closed by Barack Obama with 749,000 uniques. They were followed by John Edwards, who had 448,000 unique views, and Fred Thompson, with 410,000. However, these stats don't track with those generated by Hitwise, which show Obama and Ron Paul continuing to lead the pack.

  • Meanwhile John McCain is near the bottom of the pack, with only 58,000 uniques. The web used to be more friendly to McCain, recalls OpenLeft’s Chris Bowers. “This is somewhat odd for a candidate who was one of the first, if not the first, Presidential candidate to raise big money online, and is a testament to how low his image has sunk among internet users in the past eight years,” Bowers writes. He also notes that these monthly numbers for all of the candidates are relatively small, paling in comparison to the Huffington Post’s daily hits.

In Case You Missed It…

Patrick Ruffini explores the fascinating charts displayed at and uses their data for his own analysis, discovering that Paul’s support lies heavily in the libertarian stronghold of the western U.S.

We’ve got new charts — Meetup charts! Some of you have been asking for these for some time, so we’re happy to add them to our growing data farm.