Using Technology to Compare Campaigns Side by Side

A couple of days ago, one of the folks behind a new site called Politickr wrote in to let me know a bit more about what they’re up to. Politickr turns out to be one of the few political sites I’ve seen that’s really using technology in a creative way to illuminate some part of the ’08 campaign — they’re using RSS feeds and semantic analysis to show the presidential candidates’ recent blog posts side-by-side and to map the ideas on which each blog is focusing.

Glancing at the site today, for instance, we can see that Brownback’s taking a quick smack at Romney (nyah nyah, you’re not as conservative as me), Rudy’s touting his supply-side credentials, Obama’s talking about “substance” and Biden wouldn’t mind if we voted for him. It’s a quite easy way to see each campaign’s theme of the day (Kucinich’s seems to be, “look at me! I use Flickr!”) and to compare and contrast communications strategies.

My favorite part of Politickr is the visual representation of what the campaign blogs are covering — click on the tag clouds link and you’ll get a visual/conceptual map of each site’s recent topics. It’s a classic concept cloud approach, with more-represented subjects being shown in a larger and heavier font, and it makes it super-easy to see each site’s emphasis. For instance, “Iraq” tends to loom large on the Dem sites but is rather missing from on the Repub side. Some terms are a bit obscure (what is “myleftnutmeg” and why does Chris Dodd care about it?), but you can click on each to see a recent post in which it appears (ah, it’s the name of a blog on which he guest-posted). Very cool concept, nicely done — one of the few truly innovative applications of technology to politics I’ve seen in a while.


Written by
Colin Delany
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1 comment
  • Great find, Colin.

    Kucinich’s largest tag is “mourn”. And do my eyes deceive me or is there not a single “tax” (or similar) tag in the GOP clouds? No wonder the base is restless.

    Assuming these clouds are indeed representative of the messages being put out there, one could use a tool like this to discern opportunities to differentiate oneself. Like, by starting to talk up the tax cuts.