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Daily Digest: Bring Your Spam to the "Astroturf" Picnic

BY Joshua Sherman | Friday, August 8 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • New vs. Traditional Media. Which is More Delicious? The Next Right’s Brian Donahue responds to Patrick Ruffini’s post on “new media” vs. “traditional media” and posits they are not mutually exclusive and offers a new approach. Ruffini asked the other day “Why do TV ad suck so much compared to web video?” According to Donahue, the two are "apples and oranges" and each has benefits. The successful campaign must combine them and create a comprehensive advertising strategy.#

  • Cybersecurity and the next President: Wired writer Bruce Schneier has a memo for the next President on how to get Cybersecurity right. While Obama has a cybersecurity plan and McCain is supposedly “working on the issues,” Schneier offers three pieces of policy advice for whoever is elected. He says the devil is in the details, but he outlines a convincing strategy.#

  • "Democracts Praising McCain" vs. "Maverick No More": The DNC has released its response video to McCain’s “Democrats Praising McCain” ad released yesterday. The video, called “Maverick No More,” features the same crew from the McCain ad, only this time the participants criticize McCain, most notably by arguing that he has changed and that he is a continuation of Bush. Instead of Ms. Clinton capping it off as she did in the "Democrats Praising McCain" ad, however, the DNC decided to give the honor to Bush, who says, "It's been my honor to welcome my friend John McCain as the nominee of the Republican Party, I wish you all the best. I'm proud to be your friend.”#

The Candidates on the Web

  • Astroturf Story #1: The Washington Post's Paul Farhi covers the McCain campaign asking its supporters to spam blogs with McCain talking points in exchange for prizes, a story that's been bouncing around for weeks. The website asks visitors to “Spread the Word” and gives clear instructions on what to write and where to write it. Zack Exley notes this strategy won't matter: "People in politics aren't motivated by points. That's not what gets people to act. They're motivated by genuinely caring about the issues." A phony grassroots movement like this, known as “Astroturf” campaigning, is not new to Presidential elections but the Washington Post notes the reward system pushes it “one step further.” Prizes include books autographed by McCain, preferred seating at campaign events, a ride with the candidate on the Straight Talk Express: no word yet on moustache combs. #

  • YouTube Dominance: The Washington Times's Stephen Dinan reports that the McCain campaign for the first time has taken a lead over Obama in YouTube hits. This is a major reversal for the presidential YouTube campaign, which, until just recently, had seen Obama quadruple McCain’s view count. Obama still trumps McCain in total views and according to techPresident's YouTube watch, that lead is not going anywhere anytime soon. Still, McCain has had a strong run of viral videos in the last few weeks while Obama has been flat. McCain’s top three hits are all attack ads on Obama, so it will be interesting to see if the YouTube campaign will be won by the message or the view count. #

TechCongress and Beyond

  • Astroturf Story #2: Open Left’s Matt Stoller goes on a lengthy diatribe over the Drill Here, Drill Now #dontgo campaign. He had posted just days before on how the campaign is hardly grassroots because it was launched by Newt Gingrich (another “Astroturf” campaign!) and today is responding to blogger and “grassroots activist” Eric Odom who was disturbed by this claim. Odom extols the campaigns 10,000 e-mail list, Stoller is unimpressed.#

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