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If Obama Wins on Tuesday, Give the Nerds More Credit

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 5 2012

While Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, math nerd and poll-meister supreme, has gotten a tremendous amount of attention of late for his confident prediction of an Obama victory in tomorrow's election, the largely unwritten story of 2012 includes a different group of math nerds who specialize in figuring out which voters might be persuaded to vote for their candidate and then making sure that they maximize the number of people who actually come out to vote that way. We know very little about their work for two big reasons. First, neither campaign has wanted to tip off their opponent to what they're doing, and second, with just a few rare exceptions, political reporters and their story-assignment editors aren't even looking to find out. But tomorrow is the biggest test yet for their analytic approach to targeting, persuading and turning out voters. Read More

As Election Nears, Mormon Democrats a Newly Significant Voice Online

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, November 5 2012

No matter who wins the election Tuesday, the campaign has helped establish an online voice for a population with a unique perspective in this election -- self-described Mormon Democrats and supporters of Obama. Read More

Romney Campaign Will Use Smartphones To Track Voter Turnout

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, October 31 2012

Tracking voters: The Romney campaign is asking smartphone-wielding volunteers to track the vote on election day.

Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is aiming to train 20,000 volunteers to monitor polls using a smartphone application. The app appears to allow those monitors to note it on their phones in real-time as monitors see voters arrive at the polls. An instruction manual shows that the app will also enable those monitors to update party headquarters on turnout levels and report any potential problems or legal issues. Read More

Who's Winning the YouTube War, Obama or Romney?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 24 2012

Obama Denver rally live on YouTube, October 24, 2012

While the presidential campaign appears to have tightened in the polls, in the last month Barack Obama has been trouncing Mitt Romney on YouTube, garnering nearly five times as many views overall. Here's how the two campaigns' strategies with online video differ, and why it matters. Read More

What Schieffer Should Ask: The Internet and Foreign Policy

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, October 22 2012

The two presidential candidates aren't likely to get to this at Monday night's final presidential debate, but one revealing question CBS' Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer could ask is what role they think the Internet should play in conducting public diplomacy and in promoting freedom abroad. Read More

Why Campaigns Are Happy Your Vote Isn't as Private as Many Think It Is

BY Nick Judd | Monday, October 22 2012

Is it "creepy" to pressure people to vote? Photo: mdfriendofhillary / Flickr

Among the tools campaigns are deploying this year are a number of technological innovations that lean on "social pressure" to get out the vote. These can include messages that use a voter's voting history in an attempt to "shame" them into voting in November or asking supporters to try and talk their friends into casting a ballot. This year, your political leanings are more public than ever. Is that a good thing? Read More

In New Videos, Obama Campaign Courts the Tech Vote

BY Nick Judd | Friday, October 19 2012

The Obama campaign's arm for outreach to the tech sector, Tech4Obama, today released a series of videos featuring big Silicon Valley names voicing their support for the president's re-election. Dave Morin of Path, Greylock's Reed Hastings, and Craigslist's Craig Newmark are all among the people to deliver their endorsement in this round of videos. Read More

2012 Political Book Buyers Less Polarized Than in 2008

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 16 2012

Detail from Valdis Krebs, 2012 Political Book Network

Every four years, Valdis Krebs, an expert in network analysis, takes a look at the political book-buying habits of Amazon's customers, and performs a bit of data visualization magic. By looking at the data Amazon shares about people who buy books in common, along with the "also-bought" pairings, Krebs produces a network map linking books, and their buyers, into clusters. You can see the moats dividing many Americans into blue and red islands, but also the places where intellectual bridges may exist. (I've included a snippet of the map, but to see the full picture you should go to Krebs' website.) Read More

Small Screens, Thick Fingers, Can't Lose?

BY Nick Judd | Friday, October 12 2012

Faced with a sudden rash of "likes" for Romney from people who say they don't really like Romney, Mother Jones asked Facebook for help figuring out what was going on. The social network's response: Users are "probably liking the Romney page on a mobile device by either accidentally clicking on a Romney ad or a 'sponsored story' from the Romney campaign in their news feed." Read More

What Romney's New "No Cameras" Event Policy and Street Protests Have in Common

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 10 2012

Occupy protesters in Chicago in May, a photographer looking on. Photo: Vondereauvisuals

From political fundraisers in the mansions of the wealthy to street protests in lower Manhattan, people in power are pushing back against the spread of digital cameras.

You don't have to spend long on YouTube or Instagram to see that every day, people ratify a social contract that extends the right to record off the streets and into any large gathering. But this makes trouble in politics, and so the campaigns are asking their high-dollar donors to agree to different terms. The same friction between authorities used to having exclusive control of the official record and citizens with a right to document what really happens is taking place in the streets of New York and elsewhere, in confrontations between citizens and police.

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Beyond @Congressedits, Capitol Hill Looks for Entry to Wikipedia

As he recently told techPresident, the creator of Congressedits did not aim to make Members of Congress look bad, but said he hoped that they would recognize the importance of Wikipedia as a public space and engage more with its community. "If staffers and politicians identified as Wikipedians, that would be super. You could imagine politicians' home pages with a list of their recent edits, that they would be proud of the things that they are doing." On Capitol Hill, there is in fact interest in making that vision a reality, starting off with an initial conversation that could create a framework for more Wikipedians in Congress. GO

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In the Philippines, Citizens Go Undercover With Bantay to Monitor Public Offices

The Philippines, a country of almost 100 million, is considered among the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia, despite a boost in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in the past few years (from 134th in 2010 to 94th in 2013 out of 175.) Corruption involves all levels of government, but benefits also from a mindset of tolerance, says Happy Feraren, the co-founder of Bantay.ph, an anti-corruption educational initiative that teaches citizens how to monitor the quality of government services, sometimes by going undercover. GO

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