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It’s here! It’s finally here! Let 2012′s election season begin! (Insert fanfare here and forget we’ve been talking about this since 2011).
As Columbians and Americans, we have the duty to stay informed and involved in our government. Let’s start out by learning a bit more about the two men vying for the Oval Office this November. For clicks and kicks, however, let’s do it entirely based on their online presence.
First we have President Barack Obama who has (in case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last four-plus years) been serving as commander in chief since his election in 2008. He’s the Democratic candidate, appeals to a lot of young people and has two adorable daughters named Sasha and Malia. I can say they’re adorable because it’s an undisputed, unbiased fact. And I’m a journalist — I should know.
On the Republican side, we have former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He’s the Republican candidate who emerged from the list of competitors wanting the nomination, including Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and (even though he won’t publicly admit it) Donald Trump.
On to the webpages! In this e-world, the “first impression” our grandmas told us was everything is now boiled down to what your personal website looks like. Here at VoxTalk, The Boone Ballot-Boxer has broken it down into a few categories for you so you can get a sense of who the two men vying for your vote are based entirely on their web presence.
Introduction: Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” should just play on repeat behind both sites, because that’s pretty much what you have to give them to get into the site. Unless, of course, you spend the time looking for the “Continue to the website.” Hint: it’s below the Facebook stats telling you just how many people — including your friends — have liked the candidate. Yay, peer pressure! It’s a tie on this one.
Graphics: Obama’s webpage changes constantly, on Thursday night having the look of a Madison Square Garden billboard because of it’s black-and-white ad for the Jay-Z and Beyonce concert coming up in NYC. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I hit the campaign website of a presidential candidate or a promotion for Blue Ivy’s debut album. Then on Friday morning it was back to the president backed by beautiful blue sky. Romney’s front image is actually a video running at 10 minutes and 20 seconds with peaceful piano and…OH MY HOLY LORD EXPLOSIONS…and hockey…and snowboarding. This is your call, reader.
Scrolling: Call me picky, but I like a site with little scroll time. In this regard, Romney wins hands-down for the simple front page of his site that doesn’t stretch for miles with blog posts and photos. Instead, it’s a strict click-and-read deal that gets you to what you want without having to look at the rest. Obama’s site is a scroll-and-scan deal, which leaves the fingers numb and the eyes sore after a while.
Blog: Both candidates seem to be trying to rule the blogosphere with a cyber fist, and both post regularly. On Sept. 13 alone, President Obama’s blog was updated six times before 5 p.m. (I know because I SCROLLED THROUGH all of them — see my piece on “scrolling”). Maybe our president has the time for all these updates because he’s not the one actually updating. Instead, writers like Lauren Peterson and Noah Remnick dominate the bylines. Romney updates just as much, but his name is on most of the posts unless “Guest Author” is listed. Kudos to him for personally blogging the most — assuming he didn’t just hire someone with the same name to post for him.
Fundraising: It depends if you’re going for subtlety on this one. Gov. Romney’s page has the fundraising box right smack-dab center, but President Obama keeps it tucked away on a sidebar, reserving the middle for a “Donate your email address and consequently 50 percent of your daily email quota” sign-up bar. I’m not sure which is more generous: $5 or 5 gigs of my email’s storage space.
Merchandise: The president wins this one based on selection, designer brands and inventiveness. If the offer of a free Obama bumper sticker isn’t enough to grab you, just wait until you see the entire store, complete with “Made in the USA” mug that pokes fun at Donald Trump’s birth certificate crusade against the president. It’s not a cheap stab against one of America’s richest, however; the coffee cup will set you back $22.50, not including shipping and handling. Never fear if hot beverages aren’t your thing — a slew of other things, including “Babies for Obama” bibs, iPhone cases and Marc Jacobs dog t-shirts, are available for just as high a price. Romney’s page, on the other hand, is anemic in comparison, but does include the athletic-but-classy Romney yoga pant. Honestly, I just like that they somehow put “Namaste” and “Mitt Romney” in the same sentence.
Clearly, the election won’t be decided about web presence (we can hope), and these candidates have far greater qualities and vices than infinite scrolling or anemic merchandise. For now, this Boone Ballot-Boxer looks forward to looking at the more concrete components of the candidates’ platforms. Keep your eyes on VoxTalk for more updates on the election.
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