Presidential Election is Wonky. Sorry, Wonko

I can’t believe I’m writing this in August 2007, but if you’re busy thinking about November 2008 you’ll have lots of fun over at Wonkosphere ( ), a site which is tracking buzz on the major presidential candidates. (I saw only Republican and Democratic candidates represented.)

The site tracks with a graph the candidates and their level of buzz in the blogosphere. It also pulls out particular posts and provides stats for chatter in different sections of the ‘sphere — conservative, liberal, and neutral. Dennis Kucinich, clocking in at number 10 on the list of 12, has a list of recent blog posts mentioning him and the tone among liberal and conservative blogs (Tone measures how positive the content of the blog postings was.) (Why not list the tone among politically-neutral blogs? In some ways I would find that the most interesting stat.)

Each candidate, as you might expect, also has their own page. Here is John McCain’s page. Graphs show buzz and tone over time (with a comparison to the candidates overall) and a list shows the most recent blog posts dealing with the candidate. And here’s where there might be a slight problem. On McCain’s page (and several other candidate pages) there are a lot of stories about Larry Craig. I don’t know if that’s because there are brief candidate mentions, or if because there’s been such a huge amount of coverage of that particular story so quickly, but they have very little to do with the candidates in whose lists they are appearing.

I found I got more out of the blog posts when it was very obvious (via the headline) that they were about a particular candidate, or about a particular issue that candidate was known for. I got the data and the current discussion points from there and relied on the graphs for an overview on where the candidate is buzzwise.

If you’re wondering exactly what blogs are being mined for this data, you can get a breakdown at . There are something over 1200 blogs here. I was very surprised at how many more conservative (over 700) blogs there were compared to liberal (just over 400.) There were a tiny number (45) of independent blogs.

Despite the fact that the hype machine is gassing up and pulling out onto the highway, the elections are still over a year away, and because of that news political coverage is still unformed, speculating about possible presidential candidates (even longshots), focusing on the current administration, and getting easily distracted by scandal. That makes Wonkosphere’s job tough. I expect as we get closer to the election, narrow down the candidates, etc, the buzz reporting and post lists will get a lot better. Worth a look.

Categories: News