Palin Quickly Becomes A Part Of Celebrity Culture Online
September 5, 2008
John McCain’s campaign team has often used Barack Obama’s popularity and the world’s interest in him as a tool to belittle his candidacy during the 2008 presidential campaign. The McCain camp has used videos such as “Celeb” and “Obama Love” to mock the Democrats’ leading man.
But for now it turns out that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has more in common with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton in internet-searchers’ minds than Obama.
That’s according to the audience measurement firm Hitwise, and search pattern statistics from Google.
Of course, since relatively few of the electorate knew who Palin was before last Friday, it makes sense that the top search term for Palin was simply the vice presidential candidate’s name. But the second and third top searches, of the 1,323 unique search queries tracked over the past few weeks were “Vogue Magazine,” and “Photos,” according to Hitwise’ general managing Bill Tancer in a recent article in Time and author of “Click: What Millions Do Online And Why It Matters.”
Other popular searches among the “American public,” he writes, are “hot photos,” “Sarah Palin Bikini Photos,” “Sarah Palin Nude,” and “Sarah Palin Naked.”
You might normally associate those terms with those other two women who are famous for being famous. Of course, in the short time that McCain announced his pick, Palin’s already become supermarket tabloid fodder too.
The spike in interest in Palin was also noticed by Chicago writer Nate Silver. Silver noted in a blog post yesterday that searches for Palin blew way past the search terms “Britney Spears,” “Paris Hilton,” “Michael Phelps,” and “Barack Obama,” combined.
Could all this online searching, and Palin’s good looks and relative youth at 44, translate into more of the online demographic learning about McCain’s position on the issues and liking what they see?
Michael D. Hais (a Democrat) and co-author of “Millennial Makeover,” with Morley Winograd, doesn’t think so.
“The Millennial generation identify themselves as Democrats two to one, and they’re the first generation in three or four generations where more people call themselves liberal than conservative,” he said.
Moreover, Palin’s confrontational style doesn’t sit well with this emerging political generation, who were born between 1982 and 2003.
Millennials want to work out issues by working together through compromise, he said. And the demographic research shows that they’re more concerned with civic duty than culture war issues such as abortion.
Palin’s speech, at least as far as he could tell from last night, Hais said, emphasized partisan differences and a right and wrong, which is not how Millennials like to approach the solving of problems.
“It’s: ‘We’re on one side of the issue, and the other side is wrong,’ and that is not the way Millennials approach things,” he said.
Rather, Obama’s approach of reaching out for compromise, like the way he did in his nomination acceptance speech last week, is more in tune with these young voters, he said. Hais specifically cited Obama’s comment on abortion.
Specifically, Obama had said: “We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.”
Hais cites a USA Today/Gallup poll that re-inforces this hunch that Palin’s speech isn’t likely to have appealed to the Millennials to switch over. The poll, published Thursday, shows a decline in swing voters from 30 percent a week ago to 21 percent. He says that suggests that more voters have dug their heels in.