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"Lebanese-Americans for McCain"? Huh?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 23 2008

The other day, I got an email from the McCain-Palin campaign urging me to sign up and get involved. "Take a Few Minutes to elect the McCain-Palin Ticket" it read. As it is my practice to join in all these efforts in order to better understand how the campaigns are using the web, I clicked the link and after filling out some basic info (name, address, etc), was offered the option of giving some further demographic info to join in various "coalitions" being organized in support of his candidacy. The sign-up section looked like this:

Now, most of the demographic or interest groups listed make sense if you're planning to do some targeted work with campaign volunteers. "Americans of Faith", "Asian Americans", "Catholics", "Hispanics", "Jewish" (wouldn't "Jews" track grammatically?), "Military", even "P.O.W.s" all make sense as slices of the electorate that a McCain field coordinator might want to micro-target.

But two groups jumped out at me as making no clear sense: "Lebanese Americans" and "Muslims for McCain." There is a dedicated page on the McCain website for "Lebanese-Americans for McCain." But is there any language explaining McCain's special appeal to this group? I couldn't find any, beyond this one sentence: "His foreign policy experience is unparalleled, and most importantly he understands the issues facing the Arab world." The site is written as if there is a group of Lebanese-Americans already supporting McCain, but no names are listed. If you use the sign-up box on that page to join the McCain effort, you get taken to a spare thank-you page whose first substantive link urges you to read about McCain's position on veterans issues. Are Lebanese-Americans disproportionately veterans? Huh?

Compare this ghost-town to the page that greets you if you click on "Racing Fans for McCain." You'll see some welcoming text that actually looks like it was written by some real people who are racing fans, a list of upcoming racing events where organizing is planned, an annoying auto-loading (no pun intended) video of McCain supporter Richard Petty at a NASCAR rally for him, and photos of McCain with fans at some racing events.

As for "Muslims for McCain," that coalition appears to be a total mystery. If anyone can enlighten me, I'd appreciate it.