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Daily Digest: A Giant Wave of Wrong

BY Joshua Levy | Thursday, January 10 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • The polls, the polls! All across the web bloggers, journalists, pollsters and pundits (BJPPs) are scratching their heads, trying to make sense of why the polls, and thus why the BJPPs, were so wrong about New Hampshire. The Politico’s John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei start off with a bit of self-flagellation, writing that “if journalists were candidates, there would be insurmountable pressure for us to leave the race.” Marc Ambinder rounds up some theories, conspiracy or otherwise, about the misreadings; Soren Dayton has an interesting letter from a pollster suggesting that independents were counted twice in polls leading up to the primary; Election Geek links to analyses from pollsters Gary Langer of ABC and John Zogby, in which both attempt to explain why they were so wrong; the Washington Post’s Jon Cohen describes pollster Peter Hart’s idea that “in the vastly accelerated political world of 2008, perhaps polling only two, or three or three-and-a-half days of what was a five-day campaign after Iowa was the functional equivalent of stopping polling weeks before the election in 1948.” And Gallup’s Frank Newport is a mensch and posts a video about his team’s failure to predict the outcome, but then goes ahead and makes more predictions. Let's face it, the public is as wired as the press and with one out of six voters making up their minds late, we're going to see last minute changes sometimes show up in polling booth.

  • Meanwhile, before the NH primary, the always biting and honest Glenn Greenwald called campaign reporters “adolescent, coddled narcissists” for their love of politicians who pay attention to them. Perhaps anticipating a giant wave of wrong about to come their way, he asked, “Why are predictions and speculation even part of the job of a political reporter at all?" (And for that matter, are we the only ones tired of all the political bloggers who think they only thing they can write about is the polls and the horserace too? Is the election no longer about issues?)

  • All of this handwringing raises an important question. How do we find the best coverage of the primaries? Scott Karp finds that Memeorandum, the site that uses some mystical algorithm to pull together the top stories floating on the web, is better than Google News or Digg at filtering out the noise and delivering the signal (Digg just partnered up with CBS News to provide coverage of the election).

  • The intrepid democracy-mongers at Why Tuesday are still tracking down the remaining candidates who haven’t responded to their Candidate Challenge, in which the team simply asks the candidates for their stance on election reform. The WT crew has been tirelessly dogging Mitt Romney about his plan but, as this video shows, he and his team inexplicably won’t respond to the questions and continue to give Why Tuesday the cold shoulder. Even Rudy Giuliani
    and Fred Thompson — neither of whom have election reform plans — are being nicer than Mitt. Come on Mitt, answer the question!

  • Remember Politweets, that site that aggregates mentions of the candidates among the Twittering Classes? The site also ranks the candidates by number of mentions; as of this morning Barack Obama is the most twitted, er, tweeted, I mean twittified candidate, followed by Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Now you know.

The Candidates on the Web

  • Barack Obama has raised $1.5 million online and Hillary Clinton has raised $1.1 million online since Tuesday’s primary win in New Hampshire. Clinton Campaign manager Terry McAuliffe thanks Hillary’s mention of her website in her victory speech. Mike Huckabee has raised more than $860,000 toward his goal of $1 million by today. (We share these numbers with you but add a grain of salt. The campaigns could be pulling these numbers out of thin air for all we know... and the distinction between online fundraising and traditional fundraising has disappeared.)

  • Bill Richardson is the latest casualty of the primary season, and is planning to announce the end of his presidential bid today. At the moment his website is its same cheery self, boasting about Richardson’s many accomplishments and his reception in New Hampshire. Good luck Bill! Something tells me you’ll be sticking around…

  • There are six(!) Republican candidates attending this week’s GOP debate. The field can’t stay this crowded much longer.

In Case You Missed It…

Over the last few days, Patrick Ruffini has been compiling screenshots of the candidates’ websites in the campaigns’ final sprint to Iowa and New Hampshire and put together a slideshow comparing them.