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Daily Digest: 10/5/07

BY Joshua Levy | Friday, October 5 2007

The Web on the Candidates

  • MySpace has radically redesigned its Impact channel, making it much easier to use. Like MTV’s recently launched Think MTV, Impact’s goal is to funnel the enthusiasm and energy of MySpace users toward social and political causes. Its most visible project has been the MySpace/MTV Presidential Dialogues, but it also connects MySpace users to non-profits, registers them to vote, organizes events, and features politically relevant videos. It’s a one-stop channel for young folks who want to do good, and its advantage over other startups is obvious; it has, built in, the largest group of social networking users on the planet.

  • In addition to the redesign, MySpace has also teamed up with PayPal to enable non-profits and political candidates to raise money directly on the site. The new tool is embeddable on users’ profiles, which, given the structure of the site, could easily help fundraising go viral. The partnership is yet another step towards creating a distributed fundraising process, in which supporters can organize fundraising drives themselves instead of waiting for candidates to do it. Given his campaign structure, the energy of his supporters, and his third-quarter numbers, we suspect Ron Paul in particular would benefit from the alliance.

  • The National Review’s Jim Geraghty asks if “YouTubeMySpaceFaceBookMashUp” — that is, all of this technology stuff — really matters in a campaign. He writes that in the end, new “innovations” like the CNN/YouTube debate and the MySpace/MTV dialogues are trying to recreate the traditional town hall forum. “Most of these ideas amount to new ways for candidates to reach voters,” Geraghty writes, and if the candidate fails at that, no technology can help. We agree that the present system doesn’t allow for voters and candidates to connect at all, and that’s why we promote these experiments, in the hope that we’ll eventually discover new, better ways to interact with our candidates.

  • After Barack Obama appeared on the Tyra Banks show last week, Working Assets noticed a surge in usage of its voter registration widget. “In addition to grilling the Senator on the contents of his iPod, his first date with Michelle, and the nuances of his plans for redeploying US troops from Iraq, she did something else: Tyra asked her audience to go to her website and register to vote,” writes Working Assets’ Adam Klaus. Banks’ site was responsible for nearly 500 registrations. See, these things work! (Hat tip, Future Majority)

The Candidates on the Web

  • Yesterday John Edwards visited Columbus, KY, the winning town in his Eventful “Demand and Be Heard” competition. The town of 229 attracted close to 2,000 people from the surrounding area (about the same number that originally demanded that he show up) to see the first presidential candidate to visit Columbus. Edwards gave his stump speech (“I’m from a town just like this… my father was a mill worker… I was the first to go to college…”) to the gathered crowd, and he scored a spot from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. He’s using the media moment to — you guessed it — raise money. We haven’t yet seen any voter-generated content about any of this, just the campaign’s promotion.

  • The top Republican candidates have announced their fundraising numbers: Rudy Giuliani raised about $11 million, Mitt Romney raised $10 million, Fred Thompson raised $8 million, and John McCain — who’s still in the game after all — raised $6 million.

  • Combined, these numbers are smaller than the Democrats’ numbers, and Republican candidates trail Democrats by almost $100 million, “a gap that is unprecedented in 30 years,” says the Washington Posts’ Matthew Mosk. In part, this is because the Democrats have tapped into the energy of the web. “You just have to look at the number of donors coming off the Internet, the numbers of younger donors now participating — it’s dramatic. The Democrats, they’re out there, they’re hungry. We just got fat, dumb, and happy,” GOP strategist Ed Rollins told Mosk.

In Case You Missed It…

In this week’s list of our favorite political videos, we look at some bizarre Icelandic rapping about Iraq, Fred Thompson asking a crowd to applause for him, and a scary deconstruction of Hillary Clinton’s laughing fits.