With the rising popularity of user-controlled news sites, everyday citizens are no longer dependent on mainstream media to decide what in the news is important.  By now, everyone knows this, and most people understand the power of a site like Digg as a traffic generator for blogs and news sites and also as a means to a highly desirable end for anyone using the Internet…viral status.

With this in mind, we decided to take a look at the homepage of Digg to determine the popularity of discussion and coverage of the 2008 presidential candidates.  What we found was interesting…aside from news about Barack Obama, no one seems to care.

We conducted Digg site searches for articles about several potential and declared 2008 candidates to see how many times candidate coverage appeared on Digg's homepage over the past month (Jan. 13-Feb. 13).  Six of the 11 candidates failed to make the cut and were not mentioned even once on Digg's homepage. 

Even Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, often-discussed democrats, only made the site on five and two occasions, respectively.  Chris Dodd (D-CT)and John McCain (R-AZ) each had just one mention.

Here is a chart breaking down the results:

  Pickups Link Negative Positive Neutral links from candidate's site
Mitt Romney 0          
Tommy G. Thompson 0          
Sam Brownback 0          
Rudy Giuliani 0          
John McCain 1 Link 1      
Barack Obama 23 Link 7 13 2 2
Hillary Clinton 5 Link 4 1    
John Edwards 2 Link 1   1  
Chris Dodd 1 Link 0 1    
Mike Gravel 0          
Dennis Kucinich 0          

As you can see, Barack Obama has been dominating Digg coverage of 2008 candidates with 23 articles appearing on the homepage.  Also interesting is that 2 of these were direct links to sections of Obama's website.  Obama was the only candidate to have pages from his own campaign site make it to the Digg homepage.

Other interesting points:

I am wondering if Obama coverage on Digg will die down as things get more settled or if coverage about him will continue to balloon.  His candidacy this far has been controversial, with his unique background and general lack of experience in foreign affairs.  Will people get used to Obama's uniqueness?  Or will his unorthodox background continue to drive interest online?

 Another question I have is, what's going on with John Edwards supporters?  This group of voters is usually super-active online, so it would make sense if there was lots of coverage about him on Digg.  However, this obviously was not the case.  Are Edwards fans losing interest and motivation?  Or are people simply more intrigued by other candidates?

And finally, why aren't other candidates attempting to popularize coverage about them on Digg?  I found it surprising that more candidates couldn't get their announcement messages to appear on the social news site.  I think that this is a major marketing avenue for candidates that has yet to be approached.