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Daily Digest: 10/3/07

BY Joshua Levy | Wednesday, October 3 2007

The Web on the Candidates

  • Slate’s Christopher Beam and Chadwick Matlin take advantage of the “glories of Google suggest” to find popular search queries surrounding the candidates. The results are awesome. First off, and this comes as no surprise, more people are searching for the phrase “dennis kucinich wife” than “dennis kucinich for president.” Three of the top 10 searches for Rudy Giuliani are related to cross-dressing. This stuff is endless and completely addictive. I discovered that Mike Huckabee’s slimmer physique is responsible for “mike huckabee weight loss” (#2) being a more popular phrase than “mike huckabee fat” (#5). Congrats Mike!

  • It’s official: as we reported a couple of weeks ago, videoblogger James Kotecki has joined the Politico. He’s already begun producing a video “Playbook” and will be hitting the trail soon. Once again, an official congrats to James!

  • Are DailyKos’ highly-touted traffic numbers being inflated? TechPresident contributor Patrick Ruffini thinks so. After he was “frontpaged” on the site, Patrick expected his own traffic to rise accordingly. It didn’t. After investigating DailyKos’ Sitemeter stats, he discovered that the site’s stats may in fact be inflated. “But the reason is far from nefarious: a design flaw in how SiteMeter counts visits that systemically overcounts unique visitors on extremely high traffic blogs like Daily Kos… by a lot.” Check out the post for some in-depth sleuthing. If Patrick’s discoveries are correct, a lot of high-traffic sites are reporting inflated numbers.

  • After noting that some social conservatives are threatening to support a third-party candidate if Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination, the Hotline’s Conn Carroll points out that “There is no voice in the blogosphere claiming to speak for the social conservative movement.” There are certainly established conservative voices online, Carroll says, but they all seem to be speaking about the group in the third-person; few are actually part of the movement. “Whatever divide exists between social conservatives and the GOP in real life, it has definitely materialized online as well,” Carroll writes.

  • Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas writes a profile of “a diverse, bipartisan group blog written, read and dissected by the who’s who of the growing online political digerati.” It’s called… techPresident! The piece features good quotes from site co-founders Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry, and is a good snapshot of the current techno-political moment. Also, check out the accompanying video that shows Andrew, Micah, and me sitting around Andrew’s kitchen table flexing our punditry muscles.

The Candidates on the Web

  • Blogger Leon Wolf has left the Sam Brownback campaign, reports Danny Glover. He’s just too busy: he’s in law school, he has a family, and he doesn’t live near the campaign. This is a tough break for the campaign, which has always struggled to have some semblance of an operational web presence. It doesn’t help that many spam-catching programs flag the word “Brownback” as porn.

  • The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder picks up on something we at techPresident have long acknowledged: in addition to running a “near flawless” campaign, Chris Dodd has “used emerging technologies more fruitfully than just about everyone else.” Ambinder points to the campaign’s use of Ustream, live-blogging from the spin room, the “Talk Clock,” and other innovations as proof that, despite the lowest of poll numbers, Dodd’s web staff is far and way the most inventive and creative in the field.

  • In the middle of a major foreign policy speech, Barack Obama floated an idea that frames him as some sort of neo-FDR for the 21st century. “Mr. Obama said he would ask his national security officials to hold periodic national town hall meetings – via Web cast – to discuss foreign policy. And Mr. Obama would deliver ‘occasional fireside chats,’” reports the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny. How cool would it be to watch, and interact with, the national security advisor’s weekly video chats? Or to set your Macbook by the fireplace and watch Obama’s digitized face as he updates us about the state of the nation?

  • John Edwards staffer Tracy Russo writes up some notes about Elizabeth Edwards’ recent meeting with bloggers from the Silicon Valley Moms blog and other sister sites. As an Edwards staffer, Russo isn’t going to report any negative comments from the bloggers, but mixed in with asides about dealing with loud children and rushing home from soccer games were comments in praise of the would-be first lady. “If we had the chance to ask Hillary or Barack or the others the same questions, would we get the level of thoughtfulness we got this afternoon?” asked one participant. “Meeting Elizabeth made me realize that if I vote for her husband, I have, for the very first time, a pretty good idea what I’m getting. And that made me rethink my assumptions about who and what I was really voting for,” said another. Read more at the blog itself, which gives links to the more than 20 blog posts spawned by the meeting and pleads with the other candidates, Democratic and Republican, to arrange a meeting with either the candidate or their spouse.

  • Josh Orton, the Deputy New Media Director responsible for Barack Obama’s blog outreach, has left the campaign. While Politico’s Ben Smith says it’s unclear why he left, maybe this is because of Obama’s lack of outreach to bloggers?

In Case You Missed It…

We just added a new chart to our stats arsenal, this one tracking Hitwise traffic stats. For historical information about the candidates' web traffic relative to each other, this is the place to go.

As attention to the Jena Six controversy fades in the blogosphere, Nancy Scola critiques political blogging’s obsession with “new” content, to the detriment of longer, more substantial inquiries into issues like Jena Six.

Mike Turk responds to criticism that Republican candidates have sent out email so badly formatted that Google Adwords can’t find ads for it. He doesn’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Things get heated in the comments: is it all Microsoft Word’s fault?

My post on stripped-down email continues to elicit reactions, with some commenters challenging the assertion that Chris Dodd was the first to send a message as if it was written on a BlackBerry.