Election Blogging

The top stories in the blogosphere are often an eclectic mix of topics from technology and pop culture to science and war. But last week, with the 2010 midterm elections looming, each of the top five subjects focused on the election or a closely related subject — the economic issues helping define the campaign.

For the week of Oct. 4-8, two of the top five stories on blogs were connected directly to the election according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Last week, 17% of the links in blogs highlighted two stories about the 2010 campaign. One was an Oct. 4 Washington Post piece about interest groups spending far more in this election cycle than in the 2008 campaign. The other was an Oct. 5 Washington Post story about how the political landscape remains strongly tilted toward Republicans.

Another 11% of the links concerned a major force in the 2010 political landscape — the Tea Party movement. The debate was generated by Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) op-ed in the Oct. 3 USA Today arguing that Tea Party populism is driven by anger at the government and divides the country, and is therefore not real populism, which fights for all Americans.



Using QR Codes in a Political Campaign

I recently won the Democratic primary for a third term as “Shadow” U.S. Representative for the District of Columbia. Unlike my previous two elections, this time I had signs printed and worked with some tireless volunteers to attach them to street poles all across the city. It’s a bit of trip to be driving someplace and then see your name on a sign while you are going to store to get some milk. It’s even cooler when your 3-year-old-daughter sees the sign from her car seat and says, “Daddy, that’s your sign!

Obviously, physical signs promoting a candidate are as old as politics itself, however being the technology guy that I am, I wanted to do something that was a little bit on the cutting edge – so I incorporated a quick response (QR) code into the sign. In case you’re not familiar with them, QR codes are the square, pixilated images that are designed to be scanned by smart phone cameras that will then direct the mobile device to a web site or other digital asset. For example, here’s the QR code I used on my signs.

I’m beginning to see QR codes show up on display materials and print advertisements, but I’m claiming credit as the first politician to use QR codes on a street sign. (If I’m not, let me know.) However, at some level it was a little too “bleeding edge” – a lot like having a web site address on your campaign signs in 1996. People sort of knew what it was. . . but didn’t really know what to do with it. However, those who had scanned QR codes before, and knew what they were, appreciated the effort to connect with them.

Fascinating use of QR codes, don’t you think?