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Daily Digest: Where is McCain's Online Support?

BY Joshua Levy | Wednesday, February 13 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Barack Obama and John McCain swept the Potomac Primary yesterday, each laying decisive claim to Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Wired’s Sarah Lai Stirland goes beyond the typical breakdown of who voted for who, explaining the ways that Obama and his supporters worked for the victory, including volunteers making phone calls to Spanish speakers; well-attended events; texting; MoveOn’s assistance; voter-generated videos; and even ring tone mashups. Not much about about Clinton and McCain. What did their campaign operations look like?

  • Unless we’re just not hearing about it, there seems to be almost no voter-generated activity occuring on behalf of McCain. Yet the anti-McCain Yes We Can parody has been viewed more than 700,000 times. On our charts, McCain has so many fewer Facebook supporters, YouTube views, and blog mentions than Obama (or Clinton) that it’s hard to even compare them. We wonder how well this lack of online enthusiasm bodes for him.

  • Read Scott Martin, a partner at consulting firm WIT Americas, has started a site covering the use of advertising by the candidates. He’s just getting started, but he’s already listed the online spots where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s ads have appeared since Friday. Clinton goes much more national, hitting various pages of the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post, while Obama goes local in San Francisco, New Jersey, West Virginia, and across the country. As Colin Delany notes (thanks for the tip!), the navigation is pretty rough, but the analysis and tracking info is good stuff.

  • We bloggers like to think because we come armed with nothing more than coffee, laptops, and Internet connections, nothing can stand in our way. Nothing, that is, but access to the candidates. Off The Bus’ Celeste Whiting rubs it in: “Go ahead and kvetch, blogger. Though you are clever, well read, socially conscious with a generous progressive heart - even a talented writer - you lack access.” Who, me? So Whiting offers a fantasy of what an on-the-bus (or, in this case, on the plane) interview with Hillary Clinton might be like. “‘It’s like The Amazing Race meets Survivor. Reality politics for the writers’ strike,’ I blurted. We laughed. ‘Who’ll get voted off when the tribe gathers for convention?’ she pondered with a twinkle in her eye.’” Nice try. I have to go change out of my pajamas now.

  • Most of us tolerate and use those gawdy online greetings cards that, without fail, clog the tubes around Valentine’s day and our loved ones’ birthdays. But new online card site SquidNote lets the public create social greeting cards, and a thank-you card for John Edwards has been gathering steam. Started on Feb. 5, soon after Edwards left the race, there are now thousands of names on it. The coolest things are the personalized notes, written in handwriting fonts, like this one from Mardee: “Hillary and Obama who? I wear blinkers that only allow me to see John Edwards as President.” Greeting cards have officially made their way into the political web.

  • Norwegian proto-blogger Jill Walker Rettberg has been paying close attention to the use of the web in the U.S. elections, and rounds up her favorite moments for her Scandinavian readers. Among them: Phil de Vellis’Vote Different” video, “I Got A Crush on Obama,” and the “Yes We Can” video. Walker is particularly interested in how these are examples of remix culture, giving young people an avenue into content creation and, thus, political participation. See her great post for how this relates to politics in Norway.

  • Web jokester Nick Mockiavelli usually focuses on parodies of the campaigns, but it appears he’s being serious in a pointed attack on Barack Obama’s “yes we can” theme. “Yes we can. We can take a fairly normal politician, and make him into an amalgam of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Gahndi [sic], because honestly those are the only three people we remember from our history books.” Yikes!

  • Stop teh madnez! The Yes We Can Has Cheezburger craze has simply gone too far:

The Candidates on the Web

  • Text-messaging may be the most mysterious, and under-utilized, element of presidential campaigns. Always getting to the bottom of shadowy campaign secrets, the Washington Post’s Jose Antonio Vargas writes that “More than any other campaign, with the exception of Mitt Romney’s, Obama has innovatively and consistently used text messaging.” Yesterday morning, as Obama supporters went to the polls in in the D.C. area, they received a text featuring an Obama quote and asking them to forward it to friends. Scott Goodstein, Obama’s man-behind-the-text, won’t say how many people are signed up to receive the message, but he tells Vargas that he regularly asks supporters to send in their zip codes so that he can send targeted messages. We’re looking forward to a post-mortem on texting once the campaigns are over — these famously secretive staffers have a lot to tell us.

In Case You Missed It…

Esther Dyson argues that while Google and a host of start-ups are refining their ability to target advertising at consumers, the long-term news is in how web users are learning, through sites like Facebook, to control their own data and who gets to market to them. Micah Sifry wonders if there’s a similar trend coming in politics.