Profile polling

A look at the MySpace and Facebook profiles of the '08 presidential candidates
By DAVID MASHBURN  |  September 27, 2007

FACEBOOK AVATAR: But like this photo from his Facebook profile, Edwards MySpace page is a
whole lot of beige.

With the first few presidential primary debates out of the way, we can stop pretending that our vote hinges on the candidates’ positions on Iraq, the economy or healthcare reform and start judging them on a subject more intrinsically related to their potential performance in the Oval Office ― their MySpace and Facebook profiles. The candidates are striving to do something new in hopes of swaying young voters to their platform. And fittingly, their new favorite channel is being provided courtesy of MySpace and MTV.

MySpace and MTV are combining powers to host a series of town-hall style dialogues with the 2008 crop of presidential wannabes on college campuses across the country. Candidates will answer questions submitted in real time by viewers through MySpaceIM, text messages, and emails. The first dialogue is slotted for today, September 27, in New Hampshire with Democratic candidate John Edwards.

But long before these debates were scheduled, the candidates were getting busy on the social networking. But how useful are these sites to voters? We’ve all heard friends complain about the irrationality of judging someone’s character from a one-dimensional representation rather than taking the time to gauge their personality face-to-face and then making an informed decision on the value of their friendship. Or some such nonsense. For the rest of us, Facebook and MySpace represent the easiest and most efficient method of assessing compatibility for a friend, a potential hook-up, or a presidential candidate. So before MTV and MySpace air the upcoming dialogues on MTV and MTVu and webcast them on MySpaceTV and, let’s take a few minutes to examine the profiles of the ’08 contenders. Informative? Maybe. Entertaining? Definitely.

We’ll begin in the red corner with former Massachusetts Governor Willard Mitt Romney. Romney notably eschews the “Religious Views” box on his Facebook profile, though he does answer “Mormon” on his MySpace profile. Romney’s activities include “waterskiing” and “horseback riding with my wife” and his interests are “fixing our failing schools” and “winning the war against the jihadists.” Other highlights include a list of his favorite country music performers, an inspiring quote by his father, George Romney, and a four paragraph-long “About Me” section logging nearly every accomplishment in Romney’s business and political career. Following in his family-man campaign theme, his top featured friends on MySpace are his wife, Ann, and his five sons.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani set his privacy settings on MySpace to “timid preteen.” Giuliani’s profile is only visible to people who he accepts as friends on MySpace. I could be wrong but I’m guessing that this isn’t the best technique for recruiting new members to his online campaign, especially while campaigning as strong and accessible. Giuliani declined to make a Facebook profile. Apparently he decided a one-dimensional representation wasn’t better than nothing at all.

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