Ron Paul's Online Rise
May 9, 2007 | 3:01 PM ET |
To those who say the Internet arcs toward the trivial, try this on
for size: Currently, the most searched-for phrase on the blog
aggregate site Technorati.com is Republican presidential candidate
Paris Hilton is No. 5.
Commentators often refer to the Internet as the great equalizer, but
when it comes to the 2008 election, it appears that the murky economy
of Web traction may even give an edge to the long shots. And Paul, a
Republican congressman from Texas and an avowed Libertarian known
around D.C. as "Dr. No" for his persistent opposition to just about
everything, is a long shot if there ever was one. He has yet to break
2 percent in a poll of GOP candidates and raised just under $640,000
in the first fundraising quarter of the year, pocket change compared
with the three GOP candidates who topped $10 million.
But his supporters have flocked to the Internet with such enthusiasm
that Paul is now showing up among the much richer candidates in
various measures of Internet traffic. Using sites like Digg.com,
which allow users to vote on their favorite items to vault them to
more prominence on the site, they keep a steady diet of Ron Paul
material coming through the pipelines.
Technorati spokesman Aaron Krane confirmed that, to the best of the
company's knowledge, the online support for Paul is genuine.
(Tech-savvy devotees occasionally attempt to enlist programs called
"bots" to artificially boost their candidate on search engines, but
Krane said Technorati is usually able to detect and delete the
So how are a comparatively small number of supporters able to keep
up--and in some cases outpace--with the publicity machines of
opponents with much more money and support?
"Necessity is the mother of invention," Krane suggests, arguing that,
while coverage in big-media circuits requires a lot of spending on
campaign appearances and TV spots, supporters of the fringe
candidates have better reason to resort to this kind of guerrilla
warfare in cyberspace.