June 10, 2007

So Who Is Ron Paul, Part 2 – The Internet Factor

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When I wrote Part 1, I did not anticipate the numerous comments it would elicit, and after seeing so many, I knew they had to come from somewhere I hadn’t expected. Eventually, Web Editor Chris Barnes solved the riddle: the answer was Google News (The Cornell Daily Sun is a member, in fact the first collegiate member, of the Associated Press). Both Part 1 and Part 1.5 spent some time in the top five results on Google News for the search phrase “Ron Paul,” driving his supporters over to the website. I found this ironic. Long before all these comments flooded our website, I decided to write in Part 2 about how Ron Paul had massive support on the Internet, while conversely, he had minuscule support in the real world among real voters. When the dust settled, and Part 1 had over 90 comments, these commenters had proved my point in a way. And now, I will lay out the full case for why no one should believe all the hype they see about Ron Paul on the Internet.

I will start with statistics for our own website. “So Who Is Ron Paul, Part 1,” despite being published during the summer when The Sun does not publish the print edition, beat the record for the article with the most comments during this school year. Sun columnist Laura Taylor held the old record, and any regular reader who has watched the reaction generated by Taylor’s columns knows that it would require a herculean effort to beat her record. Furthermore, comparing “So Who Is Ron Paul, Part 1” to another blog, “Democrats Debate, Obama Wins,” puts this in another perspective. The latter has more than three times as many views as the former, yet the former has more than nine times as many comments as the latter. One contributing factor to this anomaly may be the six websites that refer to this website thanks to Ron Paul’s supporters. Yes, I used my technological powers to catch them red-handed.

Those who do not believe me can instead believe ABC, who accused Ron Paul’s online supporters of viral marketing after he overwhelmingly won their online poll. I would believe ABC, considering that Ron Paul received 9,400 out of 11,000 votes when the second place candidate, Giuliani, got only 150 votes. In fact, Ron Paul seems to win every online poll, and by a massive margin each time. Because of this, one website, gopbloggers.com, took the next step and banned Ron Paul from future polls. In fact, when I saw my Ron Paul blogs appear on Google News, I also saw several articles with similar claims about Ron Paul. To top it all off, Ron Paul has more subscriptions on YouTube than Barack Obama. Paul more popular than Obama? That alone constitutes sufficient evidence that Ron Paul’s online supporters have been rigging just about every online measure of his popularity. And you do not have to be one of Obama’s many fans (which I certainly am not) to understand that.

In short, online polls are unscientific. They have few controls and let me say with confidence, people can easily manipulate them if they have the willpower. For more scientific polls with more controls, the outcome dramatically changes. To demonstrate this, I will utilize a case study of Facebook’s Election ’08 application. When I first downloaded this application and voted in their poll, Ron Paul led the pack with 27%, Obama trailed with 16%, and since Ron Paul runs as a Republican, Republicans had a hefty lead compared to Democrats in terms of total votes cast. It did not take long for Ron Paul’s supporters to find that poll. However, since one has to register with an email address for an account, Facebook’s registration process implicitly acts as a decent control on the poll. Most of Ron Paul’s supporters had already voted, so as time progressed, the application spread, and more people voted, Ron Paul slowly slipped away. Currently as I write this blog, Obama leads with 22%, Paul is second with 9%, and Giuliani is catching up with 8%. Democrats also have a larger share of the total votes, more accurately reflecting the demographics of the younger crowd who uses Facebook.

With that said, some scientific polls would shed some light on where Ron Paul really stands. The latest article on the Republican primary from Zobgy consistently mentions Giuliani, Romney, and McCain, but no other candidate’s name came up. I guess Ron Paul did not receive enough support. In fact, as I listened to the pre-debate commentary from the recent Republican debate on CNN, I heard analysts talk about how not just Ron Paul, but every second-tier Republican candidate has consistently registered in the low single digits in the polls. Reading the newest results from the Rasmussen Reports, I could find the big three Republicans again and now Fred Thompson, but I could not find a single thing on Ron Paul. By digging deeper, the latest data I found, without paying for premium content, was some favorable/unfavorable ratings from April 11-12. 14% view him favorably, 27% view him unfavorably, and 59% are not sure. Even among the people who actually know him, Ron Paul does not fare well. Although I could not find much from the Rasmussen Reports, I did find something from the Des Moines Register (think Iowa caucus) that placed Ron Paul in dead last. Yet as the word count escalates on this blog, I simply do not have room for the many more scientific polls I could cite, so the time has come to finish this blog with what any good writing should have, a strong concluding statement. Simply put, the research and the numbers speak for themselves.

  • Robert Werden

    While you are correct that the online support for Ron Paul is more than the support for the other candidates, you are wrong in assuming that it is spam.

    The polls the country depends on for determining who stands where, is flawed. The people who are polled are cherry picked.

    Our numbers are stronger than you may think. In 2000, only 50% of those eligible to vote actually did. Those who did not are people who did not feel strongly enough towards any candidate to actually vote. The Republican party knows the entire list of candidates with the exception of Ron Paul are fighting to distance them selves from the Bush empire. Paul does not have to because he was always distanced. The Party knows they will not win against the Dem’s unless they choose a candidate that is not likely to continue the Bush regime failures. Ron Paul is the only choice. Newt is already suggesting this very course of action to ensure the republican hold on the white house.
    We are the 50%.

  • Anonymous

    It’s funny how you accuse Ron Paul supports of “rigging” the polls. Most online polls only let you vote once, using your IP address as a voting record. Now I have no idea how to change my IP address so I could vote again, and I’m sure most do not. In the Fox text poll you could only vote once from a cell phone, but I suppose there must be some crazy Ron Paul supporter out there with a few thousand cell phones. It’s called grassroots, and it seems to be something most of the press can’t fathom. It seems silly to me to say that Ron Paul supporters are “rigging” the system. Why can’t the other candidates drum up some “rigging” support then? If their voters felt so strongly about their candidate wouldn’t they do the same? Sure Ron Paul doesn’t do well in telephone polls among people who are likely to vote Republican. Simply because those people are likely to be of an older demographic than those that vote in online polls or text. Ron Paul probably doesn’t stand much of a chance in a general election, but he sure has the support of younger, internet informed, and tech savy people who are happy to start a grassroots effort on the internet because of the things that he says. Let’s look at why he has the support he has. He tells the truth, and you know exactly where he stands, which seems to be a rarity in the rhetoric filled polotics of today’s landscape of fear fear bomb bomb 911 911. Thanks.

  • Matt C

    I have just looked back over part 1 and 1.5 of this series, and am really curious as to what on earth you could be up to. The first two articles were transparent attempts to paint Dr. Paul as a Neville-Chamberlain style appeaser, using every trick in the book *except (naturally) presenting y’know, “evidence” that he thinks those things…

    Then this article preaches about *scientificness. Seriously, what?

  • John Tiller

    I was very interested in voting for Romney or maybe Giuliani a few weeks ago. Both of these guys seem like straight shooters. Very charismatic, solid leaders.

    Then I read about what Ron Paul stands for. I have decided to vote for Ron Paul now. I like what he stands for and he seems very honest.

    The other candidates, including the democrats, all seem to be pro-war and I am not into my tax money going toward illegal, pre-emptive war. I personally don’t feel threatened whatsoever by terrorists, anywhere. When they knock on my front door, then maybe I’ll consider giving up some of the hard-earned Constitutional freedoms our founding fathers fought for. Until then, the pro-war corporations and their lobbyists will have to be happy with their existing wealth. It should be plenty, already.

  • Paul

    Sorry, but this article is also BS.

    Yes, it is possible that Ron Paul has more Youtube subscribers then Obama. Yes, it is possible that Ron Paul received 9,400 out of 11,000 votes on ABC’s poll. ABC *accused* Ron Paul supporters of spamming and viral marketing (?), but they have offered no proof. Nor have you. GOPbloggers didn’t like the results they were getting, so they banned Ron Paul, similar to FOX’s not liking the results of their text message poll, so they struggled to explain the results away…similar to you.

    How would you explain away Ron Paul’s coffers now loaded with $5 million in donations and rising??? Is it just Cyber-money? Monopoly money? Spam money?

    Please, share your wisdom on this question.

    The American people are speaking out in every way that they can, and the establishment, and its shills are doing their very best to downplay it, ignore it, explain it away with non-facts, and insult the messengers. We will remember all of this.

    A huge, necessary change is on the horizon, and we should all be thankful for it, as the direction our country has been taking is disastrous at best.

  • Steven T. Cramer

    I am sure John McCain nor any of the other candidates really wanted to win the post debate polls. Or maybe none of them had the willpower. Sean Hannity and MSNBC didn’t have the resources to avoid spammers from Ron Paul’s supper organized highly funded organization. (That’s satire/sarcasm in case you have not gotten to that course in journalism class yet)

    Out of all the candidates supporters Dr. Ron Paul’s must be smarter than all the other candidates when it comes to online usage? Given the top 3 in the first quarter all had more than $13 million dollars in donations and Ron Paul at that time only had $640K. Ron Paul proves that he can run a better online campaign on less than 5% of the budget. Another reason to believe that Ron Paul is more conservative than the other Republicans.

    So if the numbers speak for themselves, and you really believe what you wrote “people can easily manipulate them if they have the willpower”, then put your money where your numbers are! Let’s take a bet that you can’t manipulate the next post debate poll so that Tommy Thompson wins. I will personally put up $1,000 on this. And when I win your $1,000 I will donate it to Ron Paul’s campaign. I am sure there are many other “spammers” that will match this bet. Thereby giving you the resources to manipulate the poll. Surely at Cornell there are a few more intelligent programmers than us Ron Paul supporters. So this should be easy money for you!

    Or in case, you finally realize the total bias of your statements and you have a true desire to be journalist, you could just apologize and step up to your mistake.

    RonPaul2008.com
    When he says reduce government and protect liberty he means it!

  • DONT TREAD ON ME

    Hmmm. So you suggest that only Ron paul supporters use google news alets. Interesting how news articles on establishment candidates fail to garner similiar response.

    Don’t their supporters use google news too? Or maybe no one gives a hoot what the wrapped in plastic so called mainstream puppets have to say. They all pretty much say that same things anyone.

    Ron Paul is the only one who speaks for himself and tells the truth in politics. This is why people all over choose to set googles alerts and comment on him. It called popularity.

    I hear they are now spamming RON PAULS bank account now too; after only two months RON PAUL now has FIVE MILLION DOLLARS in his campaign, most given in the just last three weeks.

    Analyst Predicts One Million Ron Paul Supporters Online by 2008
    http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/06/prweb531748.htm

    Now ask yourself which big money insider supports this university newspaper.

  • Anonymous

    Read this, you did not do good research:

    Pollsters Censoring Ron Paul from the States He Would Do Well In; Statistical Analysis:

    http://www.usaelectionpolls.com/2008/articles/are-pollsters-censoring-ron-paul-from-states-polls.html

    Stop bashing Ron Paul and get real, i do my homework too about the other candidates, none of them even mention the problem America faces with the IRS and the FED as you probably don’t do either.

  • You continue to stick to the outmoded idea that somehow support on the web is vaporware. That we don’t exist in real life. That we won’t vote. That we won’t tell everyone we know about the idea that this country is heading on the fast-track to nowhere, and that Ron Paul’s message is that it does not have to be that way. Your thesis is ridiculous in the extreme. It is not about polls, it never was. It’s about the TRUTH: that government consistently has failed us, and that it’s time for a change. No one else is offering any change whatsoever. The people know this, and the more they hear about Dr. Paul, the more they wake up to what they’ve known all along.

    The “research and numbers” comment amuses me, reminds of the saying: there’s lies, damn lies, and statistics.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder why so many people seem so dead set against Ron Paul?? Fox news own poll after their debate even had Ron Paul winning and it was a text voting system NOT online voting. Only in the last couple of minutes did he slip to a close second!!! This article states that online voting is easily manipulated. My take on it is that online polls are a good indication of how people who ACTUALLY WATCHED THE DEBATE feel. NOT a poll of people who got thier 10 second soundbites of the debate from FOX or CNN or ABC, all of whom severley slant their coverage toward the more mainstream candidates!!!! Ron Paul is for real and although he may not be able to win against the mainstream media candidates and against the Republican Neo-con machine. Alot of us in this country welcome the breath of fresh air that he brings to our corrupt political scene. I have made a decision to stop voting for the lesser of two evils every election and I will put all my time and effort into a REAL candidate—-RON PAUL!! Thanks for the forum!
    CS

  • Anonymous

    just my 2 cents but you seem to have provided evidence to the contrary of your argument.
    you argue about Facebook
    “more accurately reflecting the demographics of the younger crowd who uses Facebook”

    It is a well established fact that younger citizens vote at a much lower percentage than others in “real” world elections. What is more relevant is that we are in the primary period which has even LESS young voters.

    That would seem to indicate that the facebook polls would favor “internet” centric support rather than real- world registered voters support.

  • Anonymous

    How exactly do you explain away the reported $4M -$5M in donations to his campaign since the second debate? How about the massive number of comments on blogs and in Op-eds around the nation?

    These are obviously coming from somewhere?

    The fact that the “scientific” polls you refernce actually leave Dr. Paul off completely as an option to vote for means nothing?

    How about the fact that those pols are specific to those who are A) Registered Republican already (That excludes independents, former GOP’ers who are disenfranchised, and Dems entirely and are the most likely supporters of a message like Dr. Paul’s)
    B) It’s esclusive to those with a land line phone #: Again, it’s very reasonable to think that those who support Dr. paul simply have moved into the modern era of technology and don’t have a land line anylonger as it’s inefficiant (my family is included here)
    and
    C) Considering that his exposure has been relegated to the background by MSM and the parties (out of fear IMHO), wouldnt it be reasonable to mistrust those sources even more?

    You are somehow approaching this race as a traditional 2 party sack race just as in the past. Wake up and see that the Web IS the most powerful source of information and it what many(if not most people) are turning to for real information beyond the paid for filters in place.

    Try using some actual logic and intellectual honesty (Heck I thought Cornell was Ivy League, where is the intelligence now?)

  • Cameron Davis

    So now, making your opinion known by leaving a comment or subscribing to someone’s videos is “rigging” the system? Wow, talk about bias.

    I bet the other candidates wish they had people who truly believed in their message as passionately as we believe in Ron Paul’s message.

    You left out Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck ran a poll, Ron Paul totally dominated it. Now Glenn Beck has removed any reference to Dr. Paul from his site and the poll results.

    What happened to freedom of the press? Are you one of the people who believe the ideas in the Constitution are completely outdated and irrelevant? Fight for our right to speak out and be heard, even if you don’t agree with our positions. Freedom is worth fighting for.

  • Anonymous

    The writer makes several points illustrating a lack of respect for reality…

    “…I would believe ABC…”
    Why? This one is hilarious.

    “…online polls are unscientific…”
    This claim is always made when the writer doesn’t like the results. Contrarily, are “regular” polls “scientific”?

    “…more popular than Obama? That alone constitutes sufficient evidence that Ron Paul’s online supporters have been rigging just about every online measure of his popularity. And you do not have to be one of Obama’s many fans (which I certainly am not) to understand that.
    …”
    There you go. In this writer’s opinion, it is impossible to be more popular than Obama. Hmmm. REAL “scientific”.

    The reality is that, regardless of whether Paul’s support is online (web surfers are human too), or in the real world, there has not been a candidate who has done this before. Not only is he raising lots of money from thousands (dare I say millions?) of enthusaiastic supporters, his campaign is NEWSWORTHY, yet “establishment” news outlets avoid the story.

    As Pat Buchanan remarked in a previous campaign, “the peasants are coming with pitchforks”, and they’re pissed off. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away.

  • Abby

    What a waste of time to read.

    The icing on the cake was “Even among the people who actually know him, Ron Paul does not fare well.” Where did THAT great research come from? Sounds sooo scientific. Ha!

    Maybe you should write about how the reason Ron Paul supporters are so organized on the interent is because the media does everything to silence them. Thus, the internet is one of the only places where we can discuss Dr. Paul freely. And now the media is doing everything it can to silence us on the internet…claming the polls are rigged, for instance. Jeez. Gimme a break.

    What are they so scared of? If Ron Paul IS such a bad candidate–as so many claim–why not just give him his fair time to express his views and let the public decide from there? American can make up it’s own mind. Let the people figure out who the real idiots are on their own!

    Wake up, America! Stop allowing the media to tell you what YOU think! Do the research. Learn about our country and our constitution. THEN decide. Once you learn what’s at stake, you will see why Ron Paul is such a great choice.

    RON PAUL 2008!!!

  • JOHN HOWARD

    We are asked to believe several things:

    a) Ron Paul has very few supporters

    b) His opponents have vast crowds of supporters

    c) Yet somehow, Ron Paul’s few supporters are able to outspam the vast crowds of his opponent’s supporters all over the web

    d) A ‘scientific’ poll is one which is reported by the same mainstream media people who rigged the debates to minimize Ron Paul’s exposure, then repeatedly lied about his positions.

    e) Since Ron Paul and the constitution could not possibly outpoll Barak Obama and his latest socialist warmongering nonsense, it must be that Ron Paul didn’t outpoll them. Case closed.

    Factual note: 75% of Americans are now online, but since when did the socialists ever care what the ‘masses’ think

  • daddym200

    Ok, you caught me “red-handed”.
    I admit it…..I actually listened to Mr Paul’s message and hungered for more.
    I did search Google news for articles relating to Mr Paul as there seamed so few articles in the MSM that seamed like true journalism, (they were more like propaganda “hit pieces”).
    I read your previous post and thought I’d comment as I felt you were being unfair and wished to give you my opinion, (well, there was a “comment” button on the web page and I assumed anybody was allowed to do this).
    I am NOT a “viral marketer” as you suggest and if you actually read most of the comments supporting Mr Paul I suspect that they would be from genuine people who support what he says with some passion and conviction and who are not afraid to say so, (isn’t that a good thing in politics?).

    And as for “scientific” polls, weren’t these the same types of polls that got it so wrong in the last election?, (genuine question, correct me if I am wrong).
    If so then maybe they are getting it wrong again, maybe the scientific polls are out of step again…we’ll see in time.
    All I can say for sure is that the more I hear Mr Paul in the debates and his views the more exited I get and the more involved in politics I want to be.
    If this is the “virus” that your negative connotations suggested then I am truly infected…

    ,

  • The funniest comment of this whole story was:

    Ron Paul had massive support on the Internet, while conversely, he had minuscule support in the real world among real voters.

    Just goes to show how limited this author’s thinking is. “Real people.. Real voters”? Well Virginia, I just pinched myself and I said ouch, so I kinda think I’m real. I also vote, run my own business and most importantly, research the candidates. And I’m not a “Ron Paul spammer”.. this is in fact my first posting to any blog, although I have been following Dr. Paul for a month now.

    The thing the author misses, and most of the mass media, is that there is a fundamental change going on in the world today, akin to the 1500’s when the printing press first started to inform the masses and society started to move away from religious monarchy’s. It is that thing called the internet that will be as disruptive as the printing press was.

    Even the reactions, reactions this very author cites as “proof” discredit him. We see phrases such as “viral marketing” without any real understanding what the term means. Viral Marketing, another phrase for “word of mouth”, is the best form of marketing in that it depends on other evaluations and passing that info on to their friends. A marketeers dream and proof that Paul’s message is good enough friends feel confident enough to endorse the man and his message.

    Oh, and then we have the “proof” in the form of how Dr. Paul is being banned from GOP blogging sites. I’ve just got to think back to the late 1400’s, when those piece of paper printed on that new technology the printing press, also must have been banned and offered as “proof” that satan was running the printing press. This is part of human nature, we try to ban what we don’t understand/like, and if that doesn’t work, we try and discredit the message. We are already seeing this, both from the Michigan’s GOP party manager trying to ban Paul from the debates to attempts to marginalize Paul (such as this very article). But ultimately, the message will get out, and the fact that these attempts are being made to marginalize him, means the power structure is starting to feel the impact.

    But hey, we can compare “scientific” polls and historical trends till the cows come home. I think the better proof here is two fold. One is looking at Paul’s contribution growth since late March, when he had $500,000 and reports now have him at the $5,000,000 mark… a tenfold increase. While no where near Romney it puts Dr. Paul at about the point, money wise, to break out of the 2nd tier and enter the 1st tier. As they say, money talks and BS walks.

    And the 2nd indicator I see, is the overwhelming support for a crusty old 72 year old man, who doesn’t talk in sound bites, and makes you think, from the young of America. Sure, we had this young person support of Bill Clinton, but Clinton played well in the media and he catered more to the surface interests.

    But why this interest from young people in the issues? This is a fundamental change, and can be traced back to the very evil that Mr. Wacker cites here, the internet. These young people are thinking, anaylizing the positions, and not buying into what the mass media tries to cram down their throat. The young are embracing non-traditional media and communications. Cell phones (which the “scientific” polls Mr. Wacker cites do not call) as well as multiple sources of news information, including on the spot news sources. BTW, I am 47, so even some of us older folks are not blinded by the mass media.

    Now, after saying all that, I’ll not dismiss Mr. Wacker’s comments in their entirety. This will be a battle of the old media vs. the new media, and those who stand behind them. The truth has little to do with it, what has to do with it is who influences the hearts and minds of Americans. My only hope is that America is not destroyed before the truth can come to the surface.

    -Jeff
    Hillsdale MI

  • Anonymous

    One more thing to back my previous premise.
    On saturday, 1600 Utah Republican State delegates organized a poll to determine which candidate to support in the upcoming election. Not surprisingly Romney won. Romney is from Utah and Morman. He won in a landslide.
    Second place was Ron Paul. How’s that for real world support.

  • Will

    Quoting Bob Dylan seems quite apropos. I will spare you however, and instead leave to you to ponder the fact that a supporter of Paul would even consider doing such a thing.

  • Anonymous

    Why does your blog appear in the top spot on Google News when Ron Paul keywords are searched? Don’t tell me, you are going tell us in episode 3.0.

  • The best

    Have you ever heard of push polling? Do you know how questions are phrased in these polls? Do you know who is paying for them? Have you ever conducted a poll yourself to see how they can be manipulated? Do you know how the poll participants were picked?

    I’ve conducted polls and been an unwitting party to one that was deliberately skewed to make a politcal statement. Polls are just about worthless depending on how they are done. I recommend you read the classic book “How to lie with statistics.” for starters and then we’ll expand your reading list from there.

  • Abby

    Couldn’t have said it better, Mr. Howard! Awesome!

  • Matt C

    I have just looked back over part 1 and 1.5 of this series, and am really curious as to what on earth you could be up to. The first two articles were transparent attempts to paint Dr. Paul as a Neville-Chamberlain style appeaser, using every trick in the book *except (naturally) presenting y’know, “evidence” that he thinks those things…

    Then this article preaches about *scientificness. Seriously, what?