A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about the efforts of supporters of Ron Paul to promote Paul-related news articles to the Digg homepage. Along similar lines, there was a story yesterday on ABCNews.com about a resounding Paul victory in an online poll that asked who won the recent Republican debate. As of this writing, Paul has attracted 13,343 of 15,590 votes cast.

This piqued my interest enough to take another look at the situation on the U.S. Elections 2008 channel on Digg. A quick glance shows that the influence of Paul on Digg has grown since my last look. Here are some key points:

  • 11 of 26 (42%) homepage stories the last 7 days in the U.S. Elections 2008 channel are about Ron Paul. A few months back the number was only 20%.
  • Interestingly, 7 of 26 (27%) articles mention Democrat Mike Gravel. This is a new development. Looks like Gravel supporters are taking a similar approach.
  • Only 10 of 26 (38%) articles did not mention Paul or Gravel, and focused on other candidates. Note that there we a number of articles that mentioned both Gravel and Paul, which is why the math is weird.

So what is going on here? A few points:

(1) From reading the comments of Paul and Gravel Diggers, it is clear that they are turning to Digg and other online venues because they feel they aren’t getting a fair shake from the mainstream media. Gravel and Paul have also attracted an extremely intense group of supporters. So they have gone underground and are seeking to promote their candidates any way they can. Guerrilla campaigning.

(2) Normal diggers seem to be somewhat receptive to the Paul related stories that are being submitted. As an example, this submission trying to get Paul on the Daily Show has attracted over 5,500 diggs so far. This makes it the eighth most popular post over the last 7 days (all the others are about the HD-DVD mess). Paul’s libertarian beliefs seem to have found a receptive audience among diggers. If the Digg community was hostile to this stuff, they would bury Paul articles.

(3) From what I can tell supporters are organizing on behalf of the campaign and not at the campaign’s direction. As Josh Levy has pointed out, the official Paul online presence really doesn’t have much to it at this point.

(4) None of the top tier campaigns (or the supporters of those campaigns) seem to be making a concerted effort to get articles on Digg. Supporters of Paul and Gravel are the only ones really engaged there. I think this goes back to #1 – other candidates are getting plenty of coverage and don’t feel they need Digg. And none of the other lower tier candidates have passionate enough supporters to engage in these sorts of activities.

So does it matter? Is it working?

Sort of. The Paul and Gravel diggers are successfully drawing attention to their candidates and their views of the world. They are reaching more people. That in and of itself is a victory.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.