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Daily Digest: 7/6/07 [UPDATE]

BY Joshua Levy | Friday, July 6 2007

The Web on the Candidates

  • Barack Obama's campaign has gone viral, writes Time's Karen Tumulty. "No campaign has been more aggressive in tapping into social networks and leveraging the financial power of hundreds of thousands of small donors," she says. While Obama has been the most successful at utilizing the web to generate micro-donations from 258,000 supporters in the first two quarters of the year, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton are also trying their hand at smaller donations and larger communities. After Edwards advisor Joe Trippi made his amusing video of himself baking a pecan pie (Tumulty called it "embarrassingly awkward") with fellow advisor Jonathan Prince, $300,000 came into the campaign, with donations as small as $6.10.
  • Karen E. Crummy at the Denver Post has discovered two spoof websites that claim to support Sam Brownback. For example, at Baptists for Brownback 2008 you'll read that Brownback believes that the earth is flat, refers to rapes as "unplanned sexual events," and other untruths. Another site, Blogs 4 Brownback, traffics in the same kind of material. Both sites exhibit a kind of comic version of conservatism, making inaccurate, and, depending on your point of view, funny or offensive claims about Brownback's political and religious beliefs. While these sorts of sites present a message control problem for the candidates, Crummy writes that "the impact of parody or critical websites is unclear. In the case of the Brownback sites, some bloggers have bought into the rhetoric and dismissed Brownback and his campaign as 'wingnuts.'" But Richard Davis of Brigham Young University doesn't think they make much of a difference. "Sites like these don't sway undecided voters or push away (Brownback's) supporters. I think the biggest effect is that it's embarrassing for the candidate."

The Candidates on the Web

  • Jim Gilmore is the next candidate up in YouTube's Spotlight series. After describing his background, he details three conservative issues that are clearly at the forefront of his campaign: first amendment rights (specifically, opposition to McCain-Feingold: "The ability of people to try to control people's people political thought, political thinking and speech." Wha?), second amendment rights, and property rights ("where localities [are] attempting to take people's property for their purposes, just because they think it's a better idea, as opposed to making sure that the citizens' right to property are protected." Any idea what this refers to?). He wants viewers to send in their own stories about or responses to these issues, and while this isn't a breakthrough video in any sense, he expresses a genuine, albeit awkward, interest in using YouTube for civic discussion. "I hope that with this vehicle that we're seeing here with YouTube you take advantage of this advancement that gives the individual an opportunity to speak out and participate in public affairs."
  • Rudy Giuliani is the latest candidate with a Facebook application. The app is similar to other candidates' application, and says it "allows you to show your friends that you are in support of Rudy Giuliani and view the latest news and events in the campaign." No word yet on whether this is official, but we're looking into it. [UPDATE] It was created by Christopher Corbett, an unaffiliated volunteer who works as a data systems analyst for a non-profit organization.

In Case You Missed It...

Patrick Ruffini writes that while many Republicans "are far out front on things like blogger conference calls, hashing out legislation on Red State, and Twittering. And they're quietly losing ground on the basics of online campaigning: e-mail lists, Web development, and video."