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Daily Digest: 10/8/07

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 8 2007

The Web on the Candidates

* The Nobel Prizes are due out this week, with the Peace Prize announcement on Friday, and that means speculation about Al Gore's political future is going to rise. Indeed, a glance at our "undecided" chart for blog mentions of Gore (powered by Technorati) shows a spike already for the former VP, Oscar winner and best-selling author. Grass-roots activists for a Gore candidacy appear to have united in a national coalition at America for Gore, and the Washington Times' Christina Bellantoni reports that "state movements to draft Al Gore for a presidential bid are strengthening."

* With Facebook holding a "Political Summit" tomorrow at the Hyatt Regency in DC, aimed at educating the political community "how Facebook and social media can be an integral part of your campaign and constituent strategy," we're hearing that a number of participants are going to press Facebook to get rid of its 1000-person cap on email to group members. That rule is a major obstacle to meaningful online political organizing on the giant social network, and here's hoping that Marc Zuckerberg and crew take heed.

* Marc Ambinder's got the scoop on the launch of Slatecard, the latest Republican response to the Democratic fundraising juggernaut ActBlue. The site's founders are techPresident contributor and GOP online whirlwind David All, and web developer Sendhil Panchadsaram. At first glance, the site's most interesting and innovative elements are a ticker that shows who is fundraising for whom, who has updated their site, and so on, and badges that users can affix to candidates to identify what issue they support them on. Nice work David and Sendhil!

* Don't miss techPresident contributor and former Kerry online organizer Zack Exley's fascinating reports on the changing politics of the evangelical movement. His blog "Revolution in Jesusland" describes itself as a "guided tour for secular progressives to America's fourth Great Awakening," and there's a lot of eye-opening stuff in it for anyone who is wondering what role this enormously influential social bloc will play in the politics of 2008 and beyond. His post contrasting the energy and connectedness of a 10,000-person church rally with the desultory attendance and demeanor of a local 100-person anti-war rally is must reading. I know you're wondering what this has to do with the presidential election, but Exley is one of smartest organizers out there (having helped build MoveOn, the Dean movement, and the New Organizing Institute), and he's got his eye on a trend that could help reshape the underlying dynamic of the general election.

The Candidates on the Web

* The man with more bon mots per sentence than any other politech analyst I know, Michael Cornfield, weighs in on the current state of play in the South Carolina Herald-Journal's report on "Politicians seek Internet edge": "If Obama wins, then this will be the year of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, the rise of online merchandising and the accumulation of small donations...If McCain wins, 2008 will be the year of search engine optimization - for a while, thanks to Google AdWords, whenever you searched for 'Iraq,' a McCain ad was listed on the side of the screen....If Democrat John Edwards wins, that would prove the viability of launching multiple mini-campaigns based on the top issue of the day - or week."

* In the same Herald-Journal story, Obama spokesman Kevin Griffis takes issue with the idea that their campaign is too controlling of the online discussion: "While the campaign may post a topic, our supporters can redirect the discussion to talk about anything they want to talk about, and they tell the campaign what they like and what they don't like, and we learn from it. We sometimes even find out about regional issues that need to be addressed nationally because our supporters are bringing it up online. Under the old philosophy of campaigning - top down - voters were treated like little more than consumers who had a message shoved at them. The technology the Obama campaign is using online has allowed us to flip that on its head." Hmm, well, maybe flipped on its side?

* The indefatigable Sarah Lai Stirland made a telling discovery over the weekend: an email from Rudy Giuliani's campaign to supporters urging them to "keep the momentum going" led them to an online donation page that was "missing in action." OUCH!

* OMG. How did we miss this? John McCain's daughter Meghan and two of her friends, La-Toria Haven, "political fashionista"; and Heather Brand, professional photographer, have launched a blog, McCainBlogette.com. If the first McCain campaign for president in 2000 ended in tragedy, it looks like this one is going to end in farce. Why do so many presidential campaigns think blogging is something the candidate's kids should do? [Hat tip: Katharine Zaleski, HuffPost]

In Case You Missed It

* Zephyr Teachout goes shopping at CafePress, looking for all the voter-generated candidate fan shwag she can find.