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Daily Digest: The Mobile Voter Double Whammy?

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, October 22 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Google Maps Debuts Polling Places: If the air seems to be crackling with excitement today, it might be because Google has just connected up Google Maps with the Voting Information Project (VIP) polling place data that it and Pew and JEHT have been working to compile. Hooray! Why's that so thrilling? Because, somewhat amazingly, there's never before been one good, reliable, consistent source for where American are supposed to drop a ballot. There are kinks here, to be sure. VIP data covers a limited number of states, but Google is covering the holes with its own scraped info. And the blog post announcing the project describes a tantalizing API that doesn't seem to be documented anywhere yet. But there is a nifty widget that you can drop on your website -- pushing us one step closer to ubiquitous voting information, and world peace. Well, at least voting information everywhere on the 'net. #

  • Texting GOTV Boosts Turnout: Text messages sent on Election Day that urge recipients to vote increase turnout by 4.6 percentage points, according a just-released study by CREDO Mobile and Student PIRGs New Voters Project. Future Majority's Mike Connery has a take on the report. According to a similar 2006 report, at $1.56 per vote, text messaging is a far cheaper than other GOTV methods. Votes generated by door-knocking, says the study, cost about thirty bucks a pop. The impact of cell phones is well worth keeping an eye on as we approach November 4th. For one thing, the Obama campaign has been busy hoarding mobile phone numbers -- think the text message contest at the DNC that, the campaign said, pulled in 30,000 cell phone numbers or the VP announcement contest that likely pulled in many, many more. That's a database of cheap and easy GOTV contacts come voting day. And then there's the fact that modern polling still doesn't handle cell phones well. FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver calculates that missing cellies takes 2 to 3 percentage points from Obama's polling numbers; a Pew study confirms that, and adds that missed mobile phone users tend to lean even farther to Obama than their peers. So, are we underestimating easy-to-reach pro-Obama voters who will be cheap to turn out on Election Day? If so, it just might turn close contests into wins, and expected wins into even bigger ones. #

The Candidates on the Web

  • RNC's Small Donor Demo -- Boon or Bust?: The Republican National Committee is eager to keep focus on how tight-lipped the Obama campaign has remained about its contributors who fall under the law's $200 mandatory disclosure mark. And so, yesterday, the RNC released a database of GOP small donors. The thing is, the thing doesn't actually work -- at least, not in any meaningful way. As ABC's Jake Tapper the results provide no data on a donor's address, occupation, date of donation, or, really, anything other than first name, last name, and contribution amount. Do a search for "Joe Smith," and, says Jake, "you have no idea of knowing whether it's Joe Smith the Republican state representative in Missouri...or Joe Smith the actor who played 'Connie Hawkins' in the 1996 TV movie "Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault." Still, as stinky a research tool as the RNC's database might be, it is keeping people talking about Obama's small donor base. #

TechCongress and Beyond

  • Building a More Transparent Congress: Both Senator McCain and Senator Obama talk up government transparency on the stump, but rulemaking churns along on the Hill while they're out on the campaign trail. Nevada Republican John Ensign was grilled yesterday about his poison pill amendment to the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, reports Open Congress's Donny Shaw. S223 requires that the Senate adopt electronic disclosure forms of campaign fundraising. Its passage, though, is being held up by an Ensign provision that would require outside organizations filing ethics complaints against Senators to disclose their own funding sources. If you don't like the sound of that, you, too, can play lobbyist or citizen whip -- get on the horn and find out where uncommitted Senators stand on the bill. #

In Case You Missed It...

This Friday, October 24th, coding parties to build out the Twitter Vote Report project will be held at New York City's The Change You Want To See Gallery, at independent Jelly "work together" events across the country, and on the Internets. Have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about? Read this.