Archive for January 3rd, 2008

Glassbooth.org Will Help You Pick a Politician, But Misses the Point

Wired’s picked up on a new application called Glassbooth that helps match you with the presidential candidate whose positions are closest to yours. In clever fashion, it starts by asking which issues are most important to you and only then goes into specific questions about those issues. The quiz was easy to take, and the questions seemed reasonable, i.e., they generally seemed like neutral ways to state the issues. The site creators base their matches on the candidates’ officially stated positions, which as Wired reporter James Lee notes is no small feat considering most politicians’ reluctance to take definitive stands.

The problem I have with the application is that while it’s fun, this isn’t the way people pick candidates: despite their frequent protestations to the contrary, most people make snap decisions about politicians based on gut feelings rather than reasoned analysis (how many of the people who say they want to know more about where the candidates stand actually go to their websites to find out?). In my case, I turn out to agree with 1) Dennis Kucinich, 2) Mike Gravel and 3) Bill Richardson, who must have strong positions on environmental and civil liberties issues, both of which I listed high. Thing is, I’d never actually support these guys, because they lack other qualities that I rank more highly than their stand on these issues. For better or worse, we pick professional politicians in pretty much the same way we pick friends from elementary school on — whether we think we “click” with them or not.

cpd

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Quick Hits — January 3, 2008

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Chasing the Coveted Potato Head Endorsement in Iowa

On the rationality of the Iowa Caucus system:

“I’m not saying his refusal to take a photo with Mr. Potato Head doomed his campaign,” Green said of Brownback, who has withdrawn from the race.

But who’s to say it didn’t?

cpd

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As Iowa Caucus Nears, Huckabee Thanks Bloggers

At least one presidential candidate is not ashamed to count bloggers among his friends: according to Katharine Q. Seelye at The Times,

Mike Huckabee held a little event here on Tuesday to thank the roughly 700 bloggers who, he said, were responsible for keeping his campaign alive. Because he had no money and initially got very little media attention, he said, he could not have kept going without their dedication.

He said the bloggers, whom he called his “secret weapon,” spent their days “pounding their keyboards and hitting ‘send’ in the middle of the night.” Ed Rollins, his campaign consultant, said none of the bloggers were on Mr. Huckabee’s payroll, chuckling at the idea of a payroll.

At the AMA panel discussion on political marketing back in December, Patrick Ruffini noted the respect with which Huckabee’s campaign had treated bloggers, for instance by linking reciprocally to blog sites that supported the candidate — a simple thing that most campaigns have not deigned to do. This Chuck Norris-attended event provides another example. Whether Huckabee is really sincere in the belief that bloggers saved his campaign or not is outside the knowledge of e.politics, but his campaign and Ron Paul’s definitely demonstrate the power of political outsiders to defy the expectations of the establishment. Up the revolution!

Update: See also event coverage from The Hotline, including details of Huckabee’s band’s set list.

Update 2: Huckabee’s not the only one thanking bloggers, as this Chris Dodd video shows (via tPrez).

cpd

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Have Romney Robo-Call Your Friends

Slate’s Trailhead column picked up a very fun feature on Mitt Romney’s site on Wednesday afternoon — enter your name and a friend’s name, and this interesting Flash application will record a phone message for him or her. The site lets you pick issues — hmmmm, American Values or Radical Jihad? So hard to decide! — and you can choose to have the message sent as an actual phone call or via email. Though unfortunately it wouldn’t let me call myself after 9 pm, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to test that “feature.” Of course, the system’s also limited to names that Mitt has pre-recorded, so “Colin” was off-limits, and when I tried to use “Pat” for a message to my father, it came out as “Patricia” (sorry about that sex change, Dad). You can also have Mitt record your outgoing voicemail message, which is sure to be a big hit among those willing to part with $25 for the privilege.

Yep, we’re taking robo-calling to a whole new level — I can’t wait until the message from Mitt finally arrives in my inbox. And just think of the various ways in which this tool (the technology, not the candidate) could be used to amuse your friends or torment your enemies. Let’s hope it’s not a violation of the extensive Terms of Use that users have to agree to for me to post the audio file here….

Update: After three hours, the message still hasn’t arrived, filling me with great sadness and a profound sense of loss. Fortunately there are dirty tricks to read about, including the nasty use of REAL robo-calls to mislead voters or maybe just “educate” them about certain candidates.

cpd

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