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Daily Digest: And the Winners Are... The Voters

BY Joshua Levy | Friday, January 4 2008

Post-Iowa Fallout and Other Miscellany

  • So Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are the declared victors of last night’s Iowa caucuses. This is big news for both parties. But there was perhaps a bigger victory last night — almost twice as many people caucused as in 2004, and the youth vote tripled. Mike Connery points to Obama’s “savvy youth operation that reached out on Facebook and MySpace, at high schools and on college campuses” as one reason for the record turnout. Meanwhile, 239,000 Democrats showed up, compared to only 108,000 Republicans.

  • It’s too early to tell what effect online organizing and activism had on the night, but a look at Eventful demands provides one clue. We wrote yesterday that Obama has been at the top of the their Hottest Demands page, edging out the Wu-Tang Clan. But Eventful’s Alex Hunsucker also noticed that Obama and Huckabee were the most demanded candidates in Iowan cites. Could Eventful — which is already a hugely popular way to demand musicians’ appearances, and which, like Meetup, has an offline component that MySpace and Facebook lack — be turning into an accurate gauge of voter enthusiasm and turnout?

  • Elaine Young, who’s been reviewing the candidates’ web presences for months, also wonders what role social media might have played in yesterday’s caucuses. “Did the Twittering and Facebooking and MySpacing and Action Centers and blogging make a difference and get more people out to caucus or help spread the word in any way?” she asks. In her usual hyper-detailed way, she looks at how the candidates updated their websites and social media presences in time for the caucuses. It’s not a surprise that Barack Obama had the most active site and MySpace profile, given the massive amount of momentum he gained last night.

  • Ron Paul was in the running last night too, and he finished six points ahead of Rudy Giuliani. You wouldn’t know it from media coverage, though, which, when finished parsing Huckabee’s victory, leaped from Rudy Giuliani’s finish to Fred Thompson and John McCain’s battle for 3rd place. Perhaps a post from jokester Nick Mockiavelli best exemplifies the media’s dismissal: “A notebook computer and a version of Firefox 2.0.0.11 arrived at an elementary school gymnasium and attempted to caucus for Ron Paul,” it begins.

  • And then there were six: after disappointing showings last night, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden dropped out. Both candidates combined failed to get even 1% of the state delegates. Jeff Jarvis at PrezVid has their graceful farewell videos. Chris Dodd was an especially active online candidate, and was well respected for his embrace of the netroots and adoption of new technologies. Good luck guys!

  • Is he or isn’t he? It is perhaps the least burning question of the last few days. Keith Olbermann apparently declared Mike Gravel out of the race, but Gravel says he’s still very much in the game. He posted a noted to his home page saying, “Sen. Gravel has not dissolved his campaign, and has no intentions of doing so,” and posted a short video to YouTube expressing the same.

  • An ABC News/Facebook poll has found that the internet has become one of the primary sources of election news, rivaling newspapers’ reach. Although it’s the only news source to have grown since 2000, and 73% of adults now go online, most people still get their news from the tee-vee, though its use is falling. Folks who get their information online tend to me more politically active, especially among young voters. (All of this confirms stuff that the Pew Internet & American Life Project has been saying for some time.) In light of last night’s results, it seems clear that there is some sort of correlation between online activism and voter turnout.

  • We knew you guys were geeks, but… Check out this most excellent Photoshopping of Republican web consultant/geeks Erick Erickson, Robert Bluey, and techPresident’s David All and Patrick Ruffini. Townhall’s Matt Lewis says it perfectly: “Words can’t describe this picture.”

In Case You Missed It…

When Patrick Ruffini first floated the idea of collecting Iowa Caucus results through the microblogging social network Twitter, he wasn’t sure what to expect. Would he find anyone willing to whip out their phone in the middle of a caucus and text in the results? The answer is an unqualified yes.

I don’t have CNN or MSNBC or any other cable news station, and last night I didn’t have a lot of patience for watching the caucusing in real time on C-SPAN. Instead, I turned to Twitter.

Our 10Questions online video forum has ended, and we’re ready to declare it an unmitigated success.

As we waited for the caucuses to begin yesterday, we investigated a handful of sites that helped us bide our time. One favorite: Kung-Fu Election, which presented very different images of the candidates, Mortal Kombat-style. Here's a sneak-peak: