What Google Says About The Candidates
Now that the US Presidential candidates have been campaigning for a solid year, we’re running out of angles from which to look at them. Since the Googleplex has hosted each of the remaining candidates, we thought we’d use the Google search engine to find those new angles.
This can show us a few things: what the Internet "climate," so to speak, is for the candidates; how they stand on issues affecting the Internet; and which ones are making the best use of the Internet for their campaigns.
And I’ll try to keep my opinions out of it. (Cub)Scout’s honor.
If you were just now tuning in to the race, and your TV’s busted, you might search Google Images to find out what the candidates look like.
Aside from the first image of Senator Barack Obama, which features "gangsta" Obama allegedly pandering to the African American audience, the rest, for the most part, look nice and Presidential. If you just search for "Obama," it’s a little more casual, featuring a more JFK, Jr.-esque shirtless beach shot, and of course his would-be Kennedy-esque mistress.
Hillary (don’t click that without safe search mode ON), on the other hand, doesn’t get quite the treatment Barack does. She’s featured as the Devil in both the informal "Hillary" return and the "Hillary Clinton" return (where she’s poking Bill in the rear with a pitchfork), as well as Darth Vader, or is featured with various decidedly monstrous looks on her face. Google Images doesn’t appear to like Hillary much, but that baby pic is priceless.
John McCain, according to Google Images, is a pirate. And a GI Joe. And is most often draped in the Stars and Stripes. Sometimes Presidential, sometimes crazy guy at the bar angry because you looked at him funny. POW camp kind of does that to a guy.
Okay, so Google Images clearly favors either McCain or Obama, depending on your POV, which puts Hillary last in our forthcoming analysis (besides, "ladies first" is so sexist). We’ll start with Obama because, according to Google Suggest, nobody knows who he is.
What Google Tells Us About Obama
If you’re the type of person who listens to what President Bush says and thinks we should do the opposite, then Obama’s your man. In this Editor & Publisher report, Bush called McCain a "true conservative" (a statement Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingram and Coulter might all disagree with), and said Hillary was "well-prepared for the job." And Barack? Bush doesn’t like Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience. And if anybody knows about bad foreign policy, it’s Bush.
That’s the last time. Honestly.
Obama’s well-liked at the Googleplex, especially since he was the only candidate to answer correctly CEO Eric Schmidt’s Google employment question, which is about "the most efficient way to sort a million 32-bit integers."
He answered "I think the bubble sort would be the wrong way to go." That’s apparently correct because the crowd applauded. Giving me a math problem is like putting a chimp at the helm of an atom-smasher. Still, I think this is the correct answer: "Give them to a Google employee."
During that interview, Obama voiced support for Network Neutrality (a topic you’re unlikely to hear about off the Internet), and unveiled his technological plan for the nation, which included the appointment of a Chief Technical Officer to help make the government more transparent online.
As far as utilizing the Internet in his campaign goes, he’s been early and aggressive online, making use of YouTube, MySpace, and Google AdWords, especially to ward off a smear campaign suggesting he was Muslim. That question, by the way,—whether he’s Muslim—is the top Google suggestion for "Obama is…."
Google also tells us that, according to Slate, Obama is the most Google-like candidate, if you were to compare him to a company. A young, exciting, inspiring, dreamy upstart…whose stock has fallen, says my boss, hardee-har-har.
But even still, after all that Silicon Valley love – Google led contributors to his campaign, choosing him over Clinton and McCain – Obama failed to carry the region. Silicon Valley went the way of Microsoft. And the Obama Girl? Well, maybe she caught a cold by not wearing enough at the Google-YouTube New Hampshire pre-primary party, because she sort of didn’t go cast her vote in the New Jersey primary. Et tu, Amber Lee?
Google Suggest suggests that McCain is an insane, liberal traitor, or at best an old conservative. But if you’re the type to go against anything MoveOn.org says, which has thrown it’s support via donated money and advertising to Obama, then McCain’s your man.
And he’s earned your support. For every dollar McCain’s campaign spent online he earned $4 in campaign donations. Not a bad return at all. His email campaign did better, pulling $189 average donations at a cost of $8 per donor. He’s savvy when it comes to Internet campaigning, utilizing AdWords, AdSense, and MySpace to bolster support.
His ads don’t always hit the mark. Some of his AdSense flyovers ended up in enemy territory thanks to some faulty contextual targeting. And he had to diffuse a McCain googlebomb at some point, which seems to have been unsuccessful. His attack on Hillary worked pretty well though.
While visiting the Googleplex, Schmidt let McCain off the hook by not making him answer the efficient bit-sorting thing, and McCain struck a cord with Googlers with this nugget:
“If Google is going to be able to maintain its supremacy in the world, it is going to have to continue to get the best and the brightest from all over the world, and I accept with your gigantic egos, that you are the best…we need an H1B visa program that works.”
But he wasn’t pandering. Soon after, a Googler got the "McCain story" Rick Santorum was talking about as the two of them argued about the war in Iraq. And McCain wasn’t exactly gentle. And he’s still kind of mad at Google and Yahoo for their involvements with China.
He’s against Net Neutrality, believing the market will right itself without government intervention. That might be why he took in $0 from Yahoo, and just $1,550 from Google. Don’t feel bad for him though, McCain has mentioned making Cisco CEO John Chambers a cabinet member. Cisco doesn’t like Net Neutrality either, especially with all the network filtering equipment they make.
While Obama is compared to Google, that same Slate article compared McCain to General Motors, calling them both "old warhorses" and implying McCain’s brand wouldn’t keep pace with the new efficiency. But as half my family is employed in the steel industry, I have to say, never, ever count old GM out.
Clinton, Our Microsoft
Google Suggest isn’t kind to Sen. Clinton, either, suggesting she "is" a fake, a joke, even the devil. Slate compared her to General Electric, the "mega-cap blue-chip, a juggernaut of the 1990s," but I like the comparison to Microsoft better, especially if Obama is Google.
In fact, out of Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, Clinton pulled in the most from Mr. Softy, the Beast of Redmond, and carried Silicon Valley, too. She also has visited the Googleplex, but unfortunately, it looks like Clinton specified "no math questions" before Schmidt was allowed to interview her.
Clinton is also pro-Net Neutrality and has backed legislation in Congress. Her larger broadband expansion plans have come under fire recently, as she has based them on Kentucky Connect, which wasn’t quite the darling it was made out to be.
Rest assured, just like Microsoft with Google, wherever Obama is, there you’ll find Clinton, too, especially online. In AdWords, on YouTube and MySpace.
Let’s take a few things into consideration here. From a PageRank standpoint, Obama’s website is beating McCain’s, PR 7 to PR 5 (as of last August), but McCain’s MySpace profile PR is ahead of Obama’s 7 to 6. Clinton’s website 6, her MySpace profile 5.
SEO advantage goes to Obama.
Obama has 271,000 MySpace friends, compared to Hillary’s 181,000, and McCain’s disappointing 44,000.
Therefore, the overall Internet winner for the US Presidential Election of 2008 is…