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Daily Digest: Can We Ask?

BY Joshua Levy | Friday, May 9 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Reporting on the “Clickocracy” (we love that word!), the Washington Post’s Jose Antonio Vargas posts a provocative, and convincing, argument that Barack Obama’s early online popularity was a predictor of his eventual rise to the top. Following the Howard Dean model, writes Vargas, Obama “tapped into new donors, many of them also first-time donors giving less than $100 online. He organized outside the party, marrying online enthusiasm with an aggressive, technologically sophisticated on-the-ground, knock-on-doors strategy.” Voters responded. “The Web called it early,” New Politics Institute’s Peter Leyden told Vargas. But the jury is still out on how bottom-up Obama’s campaign really is, or if they just run a really tight, web-savvy ship.

  • Color of Change — the massively popular black activism group — has been hitting Hillary Clinton hard in recent weeks, circulating a petition demanding that the superdelegates “listen to the voice of the voters.” Now, reports the New York Times’ Kate Phillips, it’s organizing a campaign to hit the DNC with a barrage of phone calls to protest Clinton’s “race-baiting” remarks in which she said support for Obama among working-class whites is slipping. For her part, Clinton denies that she’s tried to be divisive. Glad to see things are going positive after North Carolina.

  • Comedian-turned-politician (Comedician? Poledian?) Al Franken is emerging as the frontrunner in the Democratic Senate race in Minnesota. But, as the AP tells it, Republican blogger Michael Brodkorb is doing all he can to stop him at his site Minnesota Democrats Exposed. “Brodkorb scooped the traditional media by detailing extensive bookkeeping problems in New York and California that ultimately prompted Franken, this week, to pay about $70,000 in back taxes to 17 states,” the un-bylined story goes. “When people talk about the right wing noise machine, that’s what it is,” Franken spokesman Andy Barr said. Actually, it may not be the “noise machine” as much as an online citizen journalist simply doing a better job than the pros.

  • Another hit for citizen media: The New York Times reported that Washington State superdelegate Sharon Mast had thrown in her lot with Hillary Clinton, but the Tacoma-based News-Tribune discovered that she’s uncommitted. Their source? Congresspedia! Yay for wikis! (Congresspedia is a joint project of the Center for Media and Democracy and the Sunlight Foundation, for which techPresident’s Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej are advisers).

  • Ur-conservative John McCain foe Richard Viguerie has launched a new anti-Mcain website called Ultimate John McCain. Don’t let the National Enquirer-esque design fool you; these folks are for real. Their beef is that McCain isn’t conservative enough. Maybe they should team up with Robert Greenwald’s liberal site The Real McCain. That would make for some strange bedfellows indeed.

  • TechPresident’s Micah Sifry is in Washington today at NDN’s New Tools, New Audiences Forum, where he’s discussing changes in campaign strategies. This morning social media consultant extraordinaire Beth Kanter caught up with him and recorded an interview on her Nokia N95 — the crack of the techie set — and livestreamed it on Qik, catching a glimpse of his talk, which focuses on networked politics and how it’s changing the political system in the U.S.

The Candidates on the Web

  • With an eye towards November, the Obama campaign is launching a nationwide voter registration drive called Vote for Change. The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder says we should resist looking at this at a simple GOTV effort. “Obama aides won’t say much more, but I gather that the campaign is constructing an incredibly elaborate online interface to allow its more than a million donors and volunteers to directly persuade their neighbors through a variety of media… On election day, Obama might have more than a million individuals volunteering on his behalf. That should scare the beejeesus out of the McCain campaign and the RNC.” Meanwhile, is McCain — whose opponents are still getting votes in state primaries — doing anything to bolster the ranks of Republican voters?

  • In another sign that Barack Obama is, for all intents and purposes, the presumptive Democratic nominee, the RNC is attacking him for his “empty rhetoric.” Can We Ask is both a video and an interactive campaign in which voters are asked to submit questions for Obama via text or video. The RNC staff will then review submissions and press Obama for an answer. It’s a cool project, and a sign that the RNC might start to do some interesting work this cycle. McCain, are you paying attention?

  • The Obama campaign has won a 2008 Global Messaging Award for best messaging application/service in the “Public sector/not for profit” category. That’s a great award, though we still have very little idea of what the heck their secretive mobile strategy is.

In Case You Missed It…

Ah Friday. Brew some coffee. Take a load off. Let YouTube take over and check out our favorite videos of the week. Watch as Mike Gravel sweeps Obama girl off her feet; as GOOD shows us where the money comes from in this campaign; as Cobra Commander asks for you vote; as the GOP attacks Barack Obama’s “empty rhetoric”; as Hillary Clinton raps about the campaign; as Obama and Clinton compete to control the universe; and much more.