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What Clicks With Voters Online

Barack Obama, the MySpace candidate.

Who's the most popular candidate online?

All the presidential candidates are campaigning online. They all have Web sites, all have MySpace profiles, all have YouTube channels, among others. But an even more important question than who's most popular is how that popularity is being measured. Beginning today, The Trail will take a weekly look at who's winning one part of the presidential online popularity contest.

Is it the number of a candidate's MySpace friends? Or Facebook groups? The number of channel subscriptions on YouTube? Or the number of supporters donating online? The traffic of his/her official site?

The Internet is kind of like a one-stop-shop grocery store. If you know what you want, head straight to that aisle. If not, keep on strolling. Some only go to MySpace, others only to Facebook. Sen. Barack Obama comfortably leads the presidential field in both the number of MySpace friends and Facebook supporters. While some subscribe to a candidate's official YouTube channel -- Rep. Ron Paul, who has a loyal, Web-savvy following, leads with 26,360 subscribers as of Sunday night -- many more watch the unofficial videos uploaded by YouTubers. This is what happens when politicians, at home with the we're-in-control, top-down style of campaigning, are subject to the sometimes chaotic, almost uncontrollable YouTubesphere.

There's a disconnect of sorts between the campaign that's being waged on the trail, offline, and the campaign being fought online. National polls have consistently shown former mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Hillary Clinton leading their respective parties. On the Internet, Giuliani and Clinton take a back seat to Paul and Obama, respectively. And none of the candidates, Republican or Democrat, come close Obama's online fundraising haul. Online strategists themselves are trying to figure out how to accurately measure a candidate's online popularity, and they point to Obama's recent fundraising tally as a big sign. Obama raised more than $32 million in the second quarter, and nearly a third of it came over the Internet, according to the Obama campaign. Ninety percent of the online donations were under $100, and half were $25 or less.

And of course the 2008 primary race, though already in overdrive, is about to get busier after Labor Day.

If recent trends continue, the Internet will play an even bigger role as the campaign heats up.

--Jose Antonio Vargas

By Washington Post editors  |  August 28, 2007; 7:00 AM ET
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Barack Obama is a leader in the internet arena. He has the largest share of the candidate's overall internet reach. The SIPP Index (a metric generating continuous controversy) shows that he holds about 20 % of the internet share which includes both democrats and republicans.

Posted by: jtemple2 | September 6, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

We hear a lot about the polls, but these are conducted over landline phone connections, why isn't there some reporting concerning the missing segment of the population that is missing from these polls, namely, the people who have given up landlines or were never connected to a landline. Is there someone counting these or are they just being written off as "oh well" statistics. I find the present polling very suspicious.
Another item concerning polls, when I read a "snap shot" of polling a while back ninty percent of those contacted were on the coast. It is true that the major portion of the population is there, sixty percent were in NY, Fla, and Cal. That has to taint the findings somewhat no matter how you cut it.

Posted by: oren1956 | August 30, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Interesting article, but you have to remember that Barack Obama's online popularity did not start with the 2008 Presidential Campaign. Mr. Obama has garnered support since his highly publicized 2004 key-note address to the Democratic National Convention and Senate election victory. Furthermore, it should be noted that Barack Obama's positions are not well known and thus his popularity is significantly based off his status as a minority and his strong public speaking skills. Meanwhile, Dr. Paul's positions are made very clear to voters, but he lacks any significant prior spotlight and minority status to assist in providing public knowledge of his campaign. Hence, it is more significant that Dr. Paul has a huge online following than Mr. Obamna, something you fail to note in your article.

Your failure to mention the statistics is also a considerable oversight. This medium is fundamental for translating online support to real-life momentum in Dr. Paul's grassroots campaign, unlike MySpace, Facebook, and Youtube.

In response to other reader comments posted:

Dr. Paul is indeed a libertarian, even with his stance on abortion. Libertarian opinion is split regarding the issue of abortion. One camp believes that the mother should have full rights over the fetus. The other believes that the fetus must be treated as an individual, and thus can not be killed by another (the mother). The later is evidenced in court cases where homicide suspects are tried on multiple counts of murder or manslaughter for killing pregnant women. While I do not advocate the federal criminalization of abortion, I agree with Dr. Paul that it should be decided by individual states. The Constitution grants states the power to enact legislation not explicitly permitted to the federal government. The other, more difficult process would be to have a constitutional amendment on the issue. However, I favor allowing the self-determination of state constituencies on the issue. Although this will create inconsistencies (which isn't a significant argument in itself due to the many existing inconsistencies in criminalization between jurisdictions), this action will permit voters and/or state representatives to decide on the issue of abortion for their own communities.

I similarly reject the notion that Dr. Paul is against the middle class by virtue of his libertarian ideology. Reduced federal taxation will increase consumer buying power, as well as quid pro quo reductions to international trade barriers. The Federal Reserve's use of a fiat currency system unnecessarily dilutes earnings via increasing the monetary supply. By curbing spending, reducing taxation, opening barriers to trade, and stabilizing the money supply the middle class will have increased standards of living while jobs in the United States will have a more competitive workforce. Federal social programs cost money, either from increased taxes or increased borrowing. The first action burdens the middle class and the second weakens our collective financial strength. After all, the more you borrow, the more you have to pay in interest. Keep in mind that your local and state governments are more than capable to provide social programs. The federal government however, has stretched its reach with spending. The only fault I see here is Dr. Paul's own use of congressional earmarks to fund projects that affect his constituency. Nevertheless, even these are somewhat justified as a return of unjustly taken earnings to the community.

Posted by: cdugan | August 30, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

1142739192...I can tell you got your definition from wikepedia, where it also says there are 2 schools of libertarian thought on abortion: "Objectivist philosophy" which is pro-choice and "Non-agression principle", which is pro-life. I still find it pathetic that you're attacking Ron Paul on these grounds.
I'll contend with you that not all democrats or liberals share exactly the same viewpoints on all major topics, and this is clearly evident in the democratic presidential race, just as it is on the republican side.
Ron Paul does not support out-of-control spending and a pervasive government. I encourage you to try disagreeing with him on those grounds, because he's laid out for all to see where he stands.

Posted by: the_jamius | August 29, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

to the_jamius, or any other closed minded fool:

As defined by libertarians...
"Libertarianism is a political philosophy maintaining that all persons are the absolute owners of their own lives, and should be free to do whatever they wish with their persons or property, provided they allow others the same liberty."

Children, are until 18, the property of their parents. I don't have an opinion on abortion, but your argument is illogical. Ron Paul is Libertarian 'like,' but b/c hes anti abortion, is not a pure libertarian, because hes sees that its the governments role to define that issue.

Its like the fact that a pescatarian isnt a vegan. or a master of science is not a doctor. you should get that last analogy, sir.

Posted by: 1142739192 | August 29, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I think barrack obama is the best candidate for the job and him giving himself a page on myself helps personally I think its quite strategic for him having a page on myspace an facebook wins him young Americans votes.......

Posted by: goku433 | August 29, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

damnjmail your analysis of Ron Paul is very inconsistent and misleading. Libertarians are divided equally on their opinions on abortion, so to claim he isn't really a libertarian is simply not true. He opposes abortion, and as a doctor who has delivered thousands of babies, I believe his arguments as to why deserve attention.
Then you say unfettered trade means we have to deal with tariffs from Japan. That's their perrogative, which will only hurt them economically in the long run, not us. Their high tariffs reduce the number of cost-effective choices of products for their own people.
Ron Paul does support the middle class, who lose most as a result of taxes (which he never voted to increase, and he wants to shut down the IRS) and monetary inflation (caused by the fed, and he would love to shut them down also). He has worked tirelessly to teach Americans that the direction we are headed right now is what is hurting the average Joe (
Taxes, government spending and welfare statism is what Obama stands for. All of those measures kill the middle class and this is proven time and time again. Government redistribution of wealth is theft, plain and simple. Educate yourself properly, damnjmail and stop misleading people.

Posted by: the_jamius | August 29, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I have heard Barack speak several times, and he strikes me as intelligent, responsive and honest - not like the criminals we have in office right now. I spoke to an Obama organizer last night and they are very positive about the way the campaign is going. I could easily vote for any of the Democrats, and would not hesitate for vote for Obama.

I know many of you are enamored with Ron Paul. I do believe Paul is honest, he is a constitutionalist and he would not be like the neocons in the Whitehouse right now. But you have to remember what he represents.

Ron Paul will not support the middle class. He is a Libertarian, not a Republican (Positive in my books), but he supports unfettered global trade (that's where Japan charges us a 20% tariff on a car and we charge Japan 3%, and Japan has socialized medicine - strike 3). He does not believe in protecting American workers. He does NOT believe in the WTO or CAFTA - so I give him credit there. But he will let the American middle class die a slow, miserable death and continue to support the corporations, not because he is evil or greedy, but because he is a purist. Oh, he is NOT a Libertarian regarding a woman's right to choose, thus he is not a REAL Libertarian either. This takes away from his authenticity. He wants to support rights when it's convenient. Haven't we played that song before?

Thus, I will take Edwards, or Hillary or Obama, or pretty much any liberal over any conservative. (Notice I didn't say Democrat over Republican...)

We have see what trickle down voodoo economics has done.

Posted by: damnjmail | August 29, 2007 12:13 AM | Report abuse

that is... "over 250,000 individual people FOR Obama have donated..." ;-)

Posted by: culb | August 28, 2007 10:59 PM | Report abuse

bigrubes2000 wrote:

Didn't Mr Obama just recently elude in his remarks that he was inclined to go to war with a country (Pakistan"

Actually, he didn't. He said he would go after Al Quaeda terrorist who are hiding in the hills if Pakistan is unable or unwilling, a course of action which is already supported by the UN. You can read the entire speech at

Regarding the other comments relating to Obama's online support, many of the "meetups" are being organized through With over 6,700 *groups* formed at we have a huge, if not the largest, grassroot efforts to support a Presidential candidate in the primaries.

As this article states, this grassroots effort has raised a historical amount. Over 250,000 individual people Obama have donated as little as $5.

Want to know why? Find out for yourself...

Posted by: culb | August 28, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget about EONS...the site for adults over 50. All of the candidates have a profile on EONS, and we baby-boomers are a very 'active' group when it comes to politics. There are people getting involved now that haven't been involved since the sixties!

Posted by: linnie1 | August 28, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Vargas,

Thank you for your article. Of the democratic candidates I do think that Obama is the best choice, but overall I think Ron Paul is the best choice for president. (both Obama and Paul signed the pledge for transparent government). Dr. Paul has a long history of integrity and a commanding knowledge of the root cause of the ills facing us today. I believe Mr. Obama has a great future in politics, but that now is Dr. Paul's time. We need a return to the constitution, a responsible, smaller federal government and more personal freedom. Large government is great at causing problems but has a horrible track record of solving them.


A democrat who supports Ron Paul for President.

Posted by: hannibal81 | August 28, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree with drd, is really the key to the next stage of politics online and I hope that Mr. Vargas covers this issue/site in one of his reports.

Obama has 68 volunteer meetup groups and Ron Paul has just passed 800...

Posted by: speed123 | August 28, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Ron Paul 2008! Vote for freedom and liberty! :)

Posted by: traviskicks | August 28, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse is where Internet support meets the real world. Ron Paul is in a class by himself on Meetup, with over 37,000 volunteers nationwide -- more than all of the other candidates combined.

This is a huge manpower and financial advantage that is not included in the official fundraising totals.

Posted by: drd6000 | August 28, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse


What clicks with online "voters" is TRUTH SEEKING. While truth is like beauty, in the eye of the beholder, online viewers find the power to seek their TRUTHS and PROOF for those TRUTHS, on line. They do not have that luxury, nor do they have the ability to comment and receive immediate response to their comments in the printed presses, subject to editors (and their employers bias). This is why Ron Paul has such a huge following online. His campaign/revolution, is composed of TRUTH SEEKERS. The other campaigns are composed of GAME PLAYERS who could careless about TRUTH and thus their online support for a candidate is in the name of WINNING POWER.

But power without TRUTH is not a win, it's keeping the statis quo, delivering leaders BOTH parties call LIARS. This is why Ron Paul's rEVOLution (with all the online tools of Google, YouTube, MySpace, MyFriends, etc.) is "Hope for America", at least for TRUTH SEEKERS efforts to CHANGE the statis quo and stop playing the WIN A LIAR game.

Posted by: jeanette_doney | August 28, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

DANIELLECLARKE says.... "the more i look for negatives on Barack (and i have looked hard) the more i find positives"

Didn't Mr Obama just recently elude in his remarks that he was inclined to go to war with a country (Pakistan) that possesses nuclear weapons and is loaded with people that I would characterize as the "religious vendetta types."

It's safe to say that stupid and dumb are not negative criteria in your opinion.

Mr Obama's words regarding Pakistan were actually dumber than Mitt Romney calling for universal health care for the Lebanese people or his three legged stool trick.

Posted by: bigrubes2000 | August 28, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

What clicks with me is the more i look for negatives on Barack (and i have looked hard) the more i find positives, such as your post yesterday.

"Pete knows that when you're first elected to the Senate, you've got to pay your dues, visit with senior senators and deliver for your home state," said Chris
Lu, Obama's legislative director. "But Pete recognized that Obama's appeal was that he was an outsider and would never be a typical senator, so Pete helped Obama
find the delicate balance between being a
rank-and-file senator and high-profile national figure."
Yes Barack is not and will never be a washington insider even when he is elected as president he will be just a man of the people.

However, i am unlike many others. I am a disabled vietnam veteran living on a small pension and sharing a home with an 84 yr old woman helping her for a couch to sleep on. Otherwise i would be homeless but since i am not and i have a 16 yr old son who i don't want to have to fight in "stupid wars" i have donated the following.
Your Goal: $2,000.00
Total Raised / % of Goal: $1,301.49 / 65.1%
# Contributions / Avg. Contribution: 22 / $59.16
Everytime i find a positive i donate.


Posted by: DANIELLECLARKE | August 28, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

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