Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Digging the Presidential Candidates...

When all is said and done, the current U.S. presidential election campaign will undoubtedly go down in history for demonstrating how differently internet politicos view politics compared with the mainstream American public. For example, Digg.com's campaign titled "Digg the Candidates", which allows users to add presidential hopefuls to their profile as a show of support, lists the following number of friends for each candidate:

Republicans:

Ron Paul
Mike Huckabee
Fred Thompson
Mitt Romney
Rudy Guiliani
John McCain

13,420
832
533
497
465
416

Democrats:

Barrack Obama
Dennis Kucinich
Mike Gravel
John Edwards
Hillary Clinton
Joe Biden

6758
5925
2026
1048
684
468

Contrast that data with the fact that, in national polls, the leading Republicans in order are Guiliani, Romney, and Huckabee; for the Democrats - Clinton, Obama, and Edwards.

The Ron Paul phenomenon is the big story of this election cycle, as he is far and away the most popular candidate online between the two parties, has broken records for grassroots fundraising, and yet still polls no higher than 6% nationally.

Additionally, a quick glance at how well the candidates are faring in other online communities like MySpace and Facebook reveals very similar results. Paul is miles ahead of everyone, with Obama a distant second.

What does this say about the state of American politics, and for that matter, the state of Internet politics? Judgment ought to be reserved until the final primary and caucus results are in (in other words, wait and see how people actually vote). However, the consistency with which Ron Paul, Barrack Obama, and the other candidates score in these online metrics indicates that this is certainly no polling anomaly, but rather we are witnessing a notable shift in the political attitudes and ideologies of the most active netizens away from those of mainstream American voters.

One thing is for certain. In this changing political landscape, it's the establishment candidates who have the most to fear.
  

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