Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Cyber-Libertarian Candidacy

I spend a disproportionate amount of time examining the Democratic candidates online presence than that of the Republicans. There is some built-in prejudice but mainly that's because the Left is so much more adapt with the new technologies. Furthermore, highly new media literate people vote democratic by some 2 to 1. This is a rough guess as data is still a bit sketchy. When you look at broadband penetration and interenet use across the country, you wind up with that classic red/blue map that shows high levels a blue along the coasts and in major cities. This of course is where the highest concentration of Democratic voters reside.

However, the internet also has a strong libertarian tradition. If you look at all the Republican candidates we see a basic representation of neo-conservatism, nativists and Christian "values voters." However, there is a solid libertarian in the pack, Dr. Ron Paul of Texas.

He's raised over 7 million online and accounts for the largest constinuancy of online Republican activism. Its hard to say who are cyber-libertarians drawn to Ron Paul and who are classic libertarians drawn to the internet because of Ron Paul.

Chris Bowers noted earlier today,

"He started the day at $2.77M raised for this quarter, and is currently up to $6.5M.Looks like he will pass $4M today, which is probably a record amount of money to be raised in a single day online, or something."

Ron Paul is the leading internet candidate of all the parties. He outperforms everyone if we measure Google searches, Youtube views, and web 2.0 social networking. The fact that he is raising "big money" is the real proof of his popularity and viability. Should he not be nominated for the Republican ticket could a 3rd party candidacy be viable?

Time magazine has an interesting article about Ron Paul's cyber presence. He points out an important reason why traditional polling may not be representative of the reality on the ground.
But if Ron Paul tops all of the Web metrics for popularity, like searches and traffic from social networks, then how can he be so far down in the Gallup Poll?

The answer may be in the difference between the people who answer a pollster's phone call and the people who don't. Younger adults are abandoning their landline phones for cell phones, so including this demographic in phone-based polls seems unlikely.
This is a fairly good article but Bill Tancer just can't hold back his contempt for the next generation of online activism, despite working in the field of online marketing. He concludes,
"Despite his success on the Web, the gap between Paul's poll standing and online popularity highlights a bigger problem for the doctor from Texas. Can his wired supporters take a break from shout-outs, sending virtual drinks and writing on virtual walls to shut down their computers and go out and vote?"
It reminds me of the NY Times depiction of online political activists as unemployed 20 somethings living at home in their mother's basement. The NY Times is now blogging of course.

It will be interesting to see how libertarian values are pushed through to the main stream through the internet. I am guessing that there are a lot more people in America that are and have been libertarian than say, neo-conservative. Ron Paul an many ways represents to the Republican party what John Edwards represents to the Democrats; a challenge to party political identity.