U.S. 2006 Elections – A Battle for Google

26 Oct ’06

As the U.S. moves into the final days of the 2006 campaign, it’s become evident that independent voters could hold the balance of power over the next Congress. And it’s become evident also that when independent voters look for information about their candidates, they will go online – to Google, and, I expect, to Wikipedia also, or other resources like it. How unsurprising therefore, that in November young men and women’s fancy turns to Google-bombing. (Surely, Wikipedia-spinning must be next on the list.) MSNBC has the story of the campaign to win over the hearts and minds of independents (NYT here):

Liberal bloggers had the idea first. Chris Bowers of MyDD outlined the strategy Sunday. He said the plan involves purchasing “Google AdWords that will place each negative article on the most common searches for each Republican candidate. Simultaneously, I will produce an article on MyDD that embeds that negative article into a hyperlink.”

Bowers asked bloggers to help add links, and they spent the next few days compiling negative news articles on Republican candidates in about 50 targeted races.

Conservative blogger John Hawkins of Right Wing News learned of the strategy and urged his allies to “fight fire with fire.” Hawkins expressed concern the Google-bombing campaign just might work for Democrats.

“Who would be doing a Google search on a particular candidate in the final days of a campaign?” he wrote. “Probably an independent voter who is trying to get more information about a candidate. And if the first article he runs across is a brutal hit piece, well, that could be the information that helps him make up his mind.”

Damnably clever, quite likely evil, but perhaps just not quite clever enough:

Jeff Mascott of Rightclick Strategies, who advises clients about online strategies, said buying Google AdWords and placing them “is a very cost-effective way in reaching an individual.” But he also said that with Google updating its search criteria every 30 days, the Google-bombing campaign likely would not work in time for the election.

Mike Connell of Connell Donatelli Inc., online strategists for conservative candidates, agreed. “It may not be too little, but it may be too late,” Connell said.

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