Caucus Quandary: Does Ron Paul's Online Brilliance Translate into Votes?
Ron Paul presents a contradiction to those who believe a totally-wired, socially-networked population will change politics and how we elect candidates. The libertarian Republican Congressman from Texas has been a true gadfly in the GOP race – contesting the legitimacy of the Iraq war while calling for the virtual end to the large Federal government as we know it. And he’s raised more money online that any candidate in either party, keying huge online efforts around Guy Fawkes Night and the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party to highlight his anti-government theme of rebellion. Paul is one of only two candidates to raise $20 million in the final quarter of 2007 – Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the others.
And yet Paul is decidedly an outsider in the GOP race, hated by the establishment and dropped from the next Fox television Republican dabate, even as his polls numbers creep into double-digits for the first time – and he wins the “MySpace primary” on the GOP side, putting himself on equal footting with young people a Democratic superstar Barack Obama. Indeed, although the Democratic candidates had much stronger online social network and netroots operations over the last year- Hillary Clinton’s was the strongest, but Chris Dodd’s was very good as well – the Republicans’ top tier has no one who can match Paul’s effort.
Yet if you believe the polls, the votes aren’t there. As the 2008 election kicks off tonight in Iowa, I’m thinking about politics from the CauseWired perspective. ComputerWorld’s Heather Havenstein has an excellent article today on the Web 2.0 efforts of this year’s crop of candidates:
But will the number of Facebook “friends” a candidate has amassed or the number of YouTube video views that a campaign tallies really matter in the election? The answer, according to experts watching the first presidential campaign in the Web 2.0 world, is yes and no.
On the social networks, it’s the so-called change or outsider candidates who rule the “friend” wars – Paul and Obama are the big leaders on Facebook and MySpace. Tonight, he start to see if friends also caucus.