As Barack Obama settles in to the rhythm of accolade and complaint accompanying tenure in the White House, the shuffle and the hustle of the next Presidential race has already begun, at least on the Republican side. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee are taking pains to criticize a court ruling by Iowa judges on the basis of the Iowa State Constitution to legalize same-sex marriage. You would think it odd for three governors in a political party that screams “states’ rights!” on social issues to be telling some other state what it can’t do on the basis of its own constitution… if you thought that Palin, Romney and Huckabee were piping up on the basis of their political philosophy. The statements of the three GOP governors is about the Iowa caucuses.
Certainly, if you ask one of these contenders if they’re planning to run for President in 2012, they’ll demur, like Mitt Romney:
Romney said he’s “keeping the door open, but I’m just not walking through it. Time will tell what the future holds. It may be a decision I make down the road to become involved.”
… “It’s too early to say,” he told reporters, suggesting they not read too much into his political activities that include high-profile appearances around the country on behalf of GOP candidates and as a speaker at party events.
Yes, Mitt, and whatever you do, don’t throw me in that briar patch! Did you hear me? I said, DON’T THROW ME IN THAT…
While the wannabes make their attempts to pitch woo, is anyone catching? I’ll attempt to answer that question in two ways today. I’ll start with one of my favorites: CafePress searches for political merchandise. CafePress prints bumper stickers, buttons, t-shirts and lawn signs on demand for people interested in expressing their support for a cause or a candidate. When people head over to CafePress and search for an item, they’re expressing a willingness to spend money in order to make their support for a candidate known publicly. This is a high level of committed support, the sort of committed support that can buoy a contender in the long, hard slog of the primaries.
The following is a graph of the frequency of CafePress marketplace searches for the names of various Republican presidential contenders from March 20 to April 9, 2009, with search volume aggregated by week:
As you can see, the field is split into John McCain, Sarah Palin … and everybody else. Is it possible that the search interest in McCain and Palin is fueled by the activities of collectors of political memorabilia, rummaging through the remains of Election 2012? Yes, that’s quite possible, and is consistent with the appearance of gradual decline for both candidates. Despite John McCain’s long tenure on the national scene, Sarah Palin slightly but consistently outranks him in search interest. You could say she’s simply more interesting.
Speaking of interest, I thought that it might be a good idea to look at another indicator of interest in the various campaigns, and rather than focus on the indicator of weak interest that is Google searches (as I did last week), I decided to track something I thought would be more robust: patterns in people’s writing.
As I can tell you personally, it takes a certain commitment of time and effort to write about something or someone. About which 2012 presidential contenders are online writers making the commitment to write? To answer this question, I consulted Technorati’s statistics on the number of blog posts over time mentioning the various presidential contenders. Technorati won’t allow statistics to be compared for more than five sets of keywords at a time, so I generated two graphs. Since I’m tracking nine GOP contenders, I thought I’d keep leader Sarah Palin in both as a way of merging the two graphs into one. Here are the results I got:
Outside the tacky choice of using two shades of blue in one graph (go green, Technorati), can you see why I shouldn’t trust the graphs Technorati has generated?