Updates on the Virtual Campaign Trail

BlawgConomics introduced the idea of the 'virtual campaign trail' earlier this year, but we have since neglected to keep readers updated with any new developments in the use of technology to secure political victories. As we believe that technology will be used both extensively and ever more effectively in national elections, we intend to keep tabs on the latest updates from the e-world for our readers with greater regularity. Though our original post was focused on tools such as email, video sharing and social media, it should have been clear to us at that point that our convenient phrase would end up encompassing a variety of rather more interesting e-strategies. If that concept wasn't clear at the outset, it certainly has gained lucidity in the interim. A very good example came to Blawgconomics' attention the other day as it appears that a Pro-Bama group has set up a website where supporters can flag threads, posts and sites that 'attack' the President. If while they are doing so, they are inclined to donate to the cause, well that is just fine too. Another feature of the site is a fact-checking section. From what we have seen, it is predictably utilized as a platform to vilify members of the GOP who have declared that they are running for President, though commentators like Glenn Beck receive attention as well. While we haven't seen such a strategy from any of the Republican hopefuls, we assume that it is only a matter of time before the candidates ironically exhibit that greatest form of flattery. Pass up an opportunity to recycle this graphic? Not a chance… In fairness to the President and his supporters, we would obviously be wary of a 'fact-checking' site run by any partisan group (unless we needed a good laugh on a slow morning). However, fact-checking done right can be an invaluable tool during election cycles. Let's face it, politicians quote a lot of statistics, discuss many laws, cite the constitution and even discuss Supreme Court decisions that legal scholars disagree on. It is helpful to have someone neutral checking in on the people who could end up running our nation. While fact-checking has been around for some time, the immediacy of the internet has increased the impact of the service as gaffes, stretches and outright lies can be identified with nearly immediate effect. We found at least one site, Politifact, which seems to keep the politics out of their political coverage. While the page we link to here focuses on last week's Republican debate at the Reagan Library, readers can find links to checks on the President and his second-in-command in the sidebar and on the main page. Of course without fact-checking the fact-checkers it is difficult to know, but the fact that the site takes its swings at both sides is at least something. Also, for what its worth, it received a Pulitzer for its coverage during the last election cycle. Anyone interested in exploring this topic further can visit FactCheck.org here and Snopes, an urban legend site here. As a final note, some may feel that including an urban legend site here is a bit incongruous. We will assume that those readers are new to politics in America…

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