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Daily Digest 8/8/07

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, August 8 2007

The Web on the Candidates

* The open-sourcing of politics is one of the constant underlying trends of 2008, as power bleeds from the center to the edges and technology-driven transparency and connectivity makes many more people fuller participants in the process. Not only are ordinary folks now privy to nearly all the inside data that campaigns once controlled so fiercely (such as polling and contact information for their supporters), regular voters have also shown that they can instantly and powerfully factcheck what the candidates say, make campaign messages that reach millions, grow their own candidate-support or opposition groups with hundreds of thousands of members, and generate great questions for the candidates at debates.
To give one fresh example of how the process is further being opened up, take a look at these two posts on the sausage-making behind the YearlyKos Presidential Candidate Forum. In "Blogging the Presidentials," Joan McCarter, the Kos frontpager who was one of the three people who questioned the Democrats, describes her thought process in preparing for the debate, and lists verbatim all the questions they had planned to ask. And over on DebateScoop, Ross Smith interviews McCarter, Matt Bai and Jeffrey Feldman on their roles, and reports that for all the public input they got (thousands of questions were submitted), "the questions are not archived and there was no process by which readers or convention goers could rate the questions (or even look at them)." Could you imagine CNN revealing its internal thinking process around the questions it chose?

* The online Right continues to gnaw on the question of how it can reinvigorate itself. Patrick Ruffini sums up the discussion in "When Does Movement 2.0 Get Started?" He says too many conservative activists are waiting for the Democrats to nominate Hillary Clinton so as to give them an obvious lightning rod to rally against, and reiterates his argument that too many Republicans online imagine themselves pundits rather than activists. He also gives the Democratic netroots major props for "positioning themselves as the authentic Democrats" and rebuilding their party's core around their energies and concerns.

* Meanwhile, Chris Bowers, the Mark Gersh of the online left, digs deep into the data to explain how the progressive netroots looks in demographic terms. Clip and save this one.

* Speaking of data, the new Veronis study on how consumers are shifting their attention from newspapers and recorded music to the net got a lot of attention, but was it worth it? The actual shift is pretty marginal--in 2006 we spent 5.3% of our time on music, 5% on the internet and 5% on newspapers, and this year we're projected to spend 5.1% on the internet and only 4.9% each on newspapers and recorded music. Point one percent of your time was just spent reading this item.

* Finally, we're not linking to the new Obama Girl video and wonder why other people are. This isn't an example of using the web to affect the candidates, it's plain and simple crass, exploitative marketing BS.

The Candidates on the Web

* According to the new Hitwise Election 2008 Data Center, Ron Paul is demolishing the rest of the Republican field with a 44.2% market share in the week ending August 4, compared to 16.1% for Mitt Romney and 11.8% for Rudy Giuliani. On the Democratic side, Barack Obama has the lead with 40.6% compared to 24.2% for Hillary Clinton and 18.4% for John Edwards. When you stack all the candidate websites against each other, Obama and Clinton jointly eat up 43% of the entire market, with Paul in third at 15%. Yet more evidence that overall interest in the Democratic field online is swamping the current Republican field. Interestingly enough, though, "Ron Paul" edges out "Barack Obama" as the most popular search term. If the mainstream media won't provide people with more information on Paul, they're searching it out online. Hitwise's stats are based on a sample set of 10 million US internet users.