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Daily Digest: Are Federal Elections Hot or Not?

BY Joshua Levy | Tuesday, December 18 2007

The Web on the Candidates

  • People are still trying to sort out exactly what this Ron Paul thing is all about. In an otherwise fine article about how Paul might spend his money, the Wall Street Journal’s Susan Davis slips in a bit of dig: “The Texas lawmaker continues to stun with the money his campaign has raised online — and to no credit of his own.” So if supporters were asked to raised money for Barney the dinosaur they would have met the same success? Sure, the organization happened outside the campaign, but it took place thanks to supporters’ embrace of Ron Paul and his positions. Is the press-corps so horserace-happy that they can’t understand politics without the lens of money?

  • In other money bomb news, Wired’s Sarah Lai Stirland reports that Mike Huckabee supporters are organizing another fundraising day modeled after the Paul campaign. This December 27th is being called “Freedom Lives Day.” And after learning of the Ron Paul money bombs, one energetic supporter of Dennis Kucinich scheduled his own event for December, in which he hoped to raise $10 million. The result was, unfortunately, underwhelming. The effort raised $131,400 for Kucinich.

  • MayorTV, a new joint project of The Nation and the Drum Major Institute, is “a challenge from America’s mayors to the 2008 presidential candidates” to start talking about cities. As the site says, today’s campaigns present America as pure heartland, complete with “tractor pulls, county fairs, town halls and truck stops. Candidates scramble for photo ops in plaid, stump in wheat fields and scarf down corn dogs,” so they’ve pulled together interviews with the mayors of several major U.S. cities, from Atlanta to Minneapolis to Miami. We could use more meaty sites like this that focus on real, serious issues.

  • “‘Tis the season of targeting the youth vote,” proclaims the Washington Post’s Jose Antonio Vargas. He links to a handful of websites like Scoop08, VoteGopher, and No Vote, No Voice that are devoted to the so-called millenials. The much-anticipated Scoop08 is a daily online newspaper written and produced by students, and focused on the election; VoteGopher compares the candidates on the issues and manages to insert a cartoon gopher into almost every image; and No Vote, No Voice was started by former Congressman Jim Leach in order to link youth with online political resources.

  • It’s Dean Week at the TPM Cafe book club. Former Deansters Garrett Graff, author of the just-released The First Campaign, and techPresident’s Zephyr Teachout, who just published Mousepads, Shoe Leather, and Hope, a collection of essays about the Dean campaign, will be posting and joining in discussion. Jerome Armstrong, sometime techPresident contributor Zack Exley, and Aldon Hynes should also be joining in later in week, ensuring a fantastic conversation.

  • Newseek’s Steven Levy writes about author William Poundstone’s idea that electoral voting be essentially modeled after the Hot or Not using range voting, which would be able to easily handle multiple candidates (Levy argues that the current system makes it far too easy for candidates to get elected with a plurality, rather than a majority of votes, and argues that it’s time we tried a new approach). Maybe Levy and Poundstone should team up with Why Tuesday and get moving!

The Candidates on the Web

  • I received an email from my buddy Kevin Bacon today who urged me to check out the new John Edwards video. Thanks Kevin! The video is a parody of Hollwyood trailers that always begin, “In a world…” along with an overblown one-man-restores-peace narrative. In this case, John Edwards is Wyatt Earp, coming to town to save the town from the bad guys. The film being previewed? Edwards’ election, opening January 3, 2008. Clever.

In Case You Missed It…

As we race into the most compact primary schedule ever and the top two candidates for the Democrats continue to dominate the polls, Allison Fine has realized that campaigns are a lot like ball games: the key ingredient that makes them both so much fun to watch is the tiniest possibility that an underdog can win. So to keep things spicy, she offers up some unconventional strategy for John Edwards.

Just in time before tonight’s deadline, we’ve added Barack Obama’s responses to the the top videos on 10Questions. We’re glad his campaign took the time to participate in 10Questions, though Obama was unable to record his answers to the top questions. Instead, the campaign hunted down videos of his statements from speeches and the campaign trail.

According to the stats on Google Reader and Bloglines, Fred Thompson, Ron Paul, and Barack Obama have the most RSS subscribers of all the presidential candidates. But there are comparatively few subscribers compared to users of social networking sites and YouTube.
It seems that while some candidates are using RSS more than others, no one is using it to its full potential.

The Clinton campaign is using microsites (small, standalone sites separate from the main campaign site) for both offense and defense this week, and Colin Delany writes that while such a strategy carries the potential of diluting a campaign’s marketing efforts, when you’re trying to reach a different audience or spread a message distinct from a general campaign site’s intent, microsites can be an excellent tool.