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Daily Digest: Super Tuesday and the Hockey-Stick Candidate

BY Joshua Levy | Tuesday, February 5 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Today’s the big day! Everyone, stop checking RealClearPolitics — it won’t update anymore today — and breathe. If you must stay on top of the action tonight (and who won’t?) yours truly and techPresident’s Nancy Scola will be liveblogging the results starting at around 7:30 right here on techPresident. We’ll be blogging direct from the Blogging Liberally party at The Tank in New York, using our favorite CoverItLive software that lets you, our dear readers, add your own comments to the mix. Do tune in. And if you’re in NYC, stop by The Tank!

  • We’ve heard the phrase, “if web traffic equalled votes…” fairly often around here, and we’ve always stressed taking web data with a grain of salt. Continuing the trend, Duncan Riley of TechCrunch, who’s been stepping up their political coverage lately, looks at comScore data showing that, if the votes followed web trends, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee would be winning today’s primaries. There’s one problem: Huckabee, er, isn’t winning much of anything today. This is one case that proves that data, like the Yahoo! Buzz data we’ve been featuring, correlates to votes but doesn’t predict them (though Yahoo’s numbers currently reflect the polls for the Dems and the GOP).

  • Our own charts — particularly those displaying data from Hitwise, Technorati, Eventful, Facebook, and YouTube — show that Obama is officially the hockey-stick candidate:

    (Obama in turquoise and Hillary Clinton in dark green)

    Even regular polling data, like this RealClearPolitics chart, shows the hockey stick. Obama has hovered below Clinton in most polling data (though he’s always been more popular online). But when the primaries hit he went skyward. The runup to today has shown the same pattern. Meanwhile, Clinton shows dips and ascents. Will she continue her brief dip today or recover in time?

  • True to their word, MTV’s Street Team ‘08 is fanning out across the country to cover, citizen-style, Super Tuesday. Many folks like Shelby Highsmith are live-streaming everything using Nokia N95s (nice plug, Nokia), and while at the moment the actual action might be about as interesting as watching paint dry, we’re just getting started.

  • Remember that quote from a Clinton advisor that Obama supporters look like Facebook, and Clinton supporters look like caucus-goers? We know how that turned out in Iowa, and now James Richardson of the RNC writes that “Team Clinton’s disregard for Nextgen voters is coming back to bite her, and bite her hard.” Richardson writes that 58% of respondents to an ABC News/Facebook poll said that Clinton would be a “Bad” or “Very Bad” choice. The RNC, of course, is delighted with these numbers, though it looks like they’ll need to step up their own outreach to the millenial vote if they’re going to compete in November.

  • OpenLeft’s Matt Stoller interviewed Net neutrality activist and law professor Tim Wu about the entry of Net neutrality into the political lexicon and why he’s endorsing Barack Obama. “I have been impressed with the willingness of Obama, as a candidate, to speak on normally arcane issues like the 700 MHz auction, computer privacy, and patent policy,” says Wu. “Right now Hilary Clinton’s ‘innovation agenda’ is a good start but comparatively thin,” Wu says.

  • In anticipation of this great day in democracy, LinkedIn conducted a poll of likely voters in the LinkedIn network and found that, among other things, independent voters on LinkedIn favor Obama, and Obama and Mitt Romney are favored in California. This is of course not a very representative bloc of voters; the average age of LinkedIn users is 41, and their average income is $109,000. Not quite a true slice of America.

  • MySpace has also released the results of its Impact Presidential Poll, which was conducted in January. It shows that 88% of those on MySpace who will be eligible to vote in November are planning to vote, and that Hillary Clinton appeals most to Democrats concerned about the economy, though Obama is slightly more popular than Clinton overall, and Mike Huckabee is more popular than John McCain.

  • The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber recently interviewed John Edwards advisor Joe Trippi and got some signature straight talk about how Edwards pushed both Obama and Clinton leftward, the press’ “Hillary-Barack lens,” and the possibility of an Edwards endorsement. There’s nothing much about tech in there, but it’s always entertaining to see Trippi call things as he sees them.

The Candidates on the Web

  • We’ll have to wait for the post-mortems to get a sense of exactly how the campaigns have used the web to get out the vote. But Barack Obama’s been using email to full effect. The Politico’s Ben Smith writes that he’s been receiving a ton of email testimonials from friends, who were spurred on by the campaign to email their networks, urging him to vote for Obama. “It’s a smart way to campaign — it’s a cliche of politics that the best surrogates are people’s friends and neighbors — and a deliberate effort by the campaign,” Smith says.

  • Obama was also encouraging supporters to call folks in other primary states using software on the campaign site (including software making it easier to call Spanish-speakers). But Matt Stoller noticed that their severs couldn’t handle the load. “The Obama campaign underestimated the energy of their supporters,” he opined, though one commenter reminds us that these things happen. “Hmmm…I seem to recall Primary Night for Ned Lamont when you guys blew your bandwidth or something like that. When there is overwhelming response and servers go down…I see that as a positive thing.”

  • MoveOn is also pushing the viral thing, encouraging supporters to pass on the Yes We Can video (which, though produced by a third party, is also being promoted the front page of Obama’s website).

  • While the presidential candidates still zig-zag across the country, hold huge rallies, and engage in retail politics, the sheer scale of a 22-state primary day means they simply can’t be everywhere they want to be. So, in the final push before Super Tuesday, the Washington Independent’s Holly Yeager writes that “the campaigns are relying on the Web like never before, to spread their message, organize volunteers and more.” Obama’s posting videos of speeches that are, remarkably, competing with Britney Spears for popularity on YouTube, and encouraging supporters to email each other. That strategy is in line with the need to let supporters communicate the message among themselves, and to create mashups like the fantastically popular Yes We Can video (over 2,400,000 views and counting). It all points to more ways that the candidates are trying to create onffline activism (a phrase which, according to our own Zephyr Teachout, sounds like “an elephant snorting coke”). Oh yeah, there are a couple of quotes in there from me and techPresident’s Alan Rosenblatt too.

  • Fred Thompson’s candidacy may have sputtered out, but by many accounts his campaign blog was a bright light in an otherwise chaotic campaign. The Bivings Report’s Todd Zeigler, who worked on the campaign with techPresident’s Mike Turk, recounts the things that made their blog a success. It’s a good case study of that particular blog, and also a lesson in the fundamentals of building any good blog. The best advice: use Wordpress! Amen to that.

In Case You Missed It…

Inspired by a book on experimental philosophy, Zephyr Teachout sets out to find out which candidate sites make us more polite.

Dan Manatt thought last night’s Hillary Clinton town hall was pretty cool — and pretty significant because it took candidate electronic town halls - and TV/Web simulcasts - mainstream.

Zephyr had a different take on last night’s Clinton townhall: Clinton’s using technology to share another highly controlled campaign event.

Patrick Ruffini thinks the news last week that Obama raised $32 million in January — $28 million of it online — is historic because we’re getting our first glimpse at the death of offline fundraising.

With the close of its Facebook Causes Giving Challenge, The Case Foundation has begun to fulfill the original promise many saw in the Facebook “Causes” application, writes Mike Connery.