Guest Post: The Online Primary
Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas sent in the following dispatch on e-politics:
Never mind the Iowa caucuses next Jan. 14. And forget about the New Hampshire primary, scheduled for Jan. 21.
The social-networking Web site MySpace, never wanting to be upstaged, says it will hold its own primary "election" on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2.
Why two days?
"Well, MySpace users are busy people," explained MySpace spokesperson Dani Dudeck. "We want to give them enough time to vote."
If it happens as planned, the MySpace vote could dwarf the real primaries in terms of the number of votes cast. According to comScore Media Metrics, MySpace has 65 million monthly unique users, 85 percent of whom are age 18 and over.
Nielsen Net Ratings says MySpace users of voting age are three times more likely to interact online with politicians. And, get this: They're also 42 percent more likely to watch politically oriented online video and 35 percent more likely to use the Internet to research candidates.
The MySpace primary is the latest in a string of election-oriented features on must-go-to social networking sites, or "socnets." On YouTube, there's You Choose '08, a clearinghouse of official candidate videos -- and, no, you won't find the infamous Hillary Clinton as Big Sister mash-up on that page. Over at Yahoo!, voters can join Yahoo! Groups (Clark08, a group in support of a second presidential run for retired Gen. Wesley Clark, boasts 654 members) and post questions in Yahoo! Answers ("Will you vote for a Mormom?" asked a user at 5:13 p.m. EST).
Last month, MySpace launched the Impact Channel, a central hub of election information. In a few weeks, it will conduct regular issue-based straw polls, with specific topics decided by users themselves -- the Iraq war, universal health care, illegal immigration, you name it.
Virtually all the presidential hopefuls have MySpace profiles -- even Tommy Thompson, who officially announced his bid today. And they're all busy "friending" supporters. TechPresident, the must-read group blog about online political campaigning, is keeping a tally of the most befriended MySpacers.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who raised $6.9 million online in the first quarter, is so far the undisputed MySpace king. Obama has about 91,000 "friends," more than Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton (33,000) and John Edwards (17,000) combined.
"If this online primary was held today on MySpace," said Andrew Rasiej, co-founder of TechPresident, "Obama would win."
Let's see if that holds up on Jan. 1 and 2.
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