It is common for political candidates to have a website that advertises the positive aspects of their own candidacy. However, in some cases a site is created to communicating the negative aspects of a politician. This is what I mean when I refer to an “anti-candidate” site.
The two that I have had the most interaction with recently revolve around the Ohio gubernatorial race. The Ohio primary was earlier last week, but both the incumbent Democrat, Gov. Ted Strickland, and the Republican, John Kasich, were unopposed. Now that the primary has passed, the campaign has begun to heat up. There is an anti-candidate site for both candidates. Http://www.TurnAroundTed.com is the anti-Strickland site while http://www.KasichFacts.com is the anti-Kasich. The disclaimers for both sites claim the respective parties as the owners of the sites, not a specific candidate. In any case, the approaches taken are different.
To start, I believe TurnAroundTed.com is a better site. This is more than a political bias. TurnAroundTed.com clearly has had more work put into it. This site is rich in content that is updated relatively often. There are links to articles and statements both independent and created by TurnAroundTed.com. Just recently they added an interactive map of Ohio where visitors can click on their county to see how their county’s economy has changed since Gov. Strickland first announced he was going to run five years ago. Please check it out at http://www.turnaroundted.com/map. All the data there is clearly cited with links. Even more importantly, there is a place to sign up to volunteer. Once visitors are convinced that their governor needs to be changed, they can take action. TurnAroundTed.com is rich in content, personable, and interactive.
KasichFacts.com has none of TurnAroundTed.com’s advantages. There is very little content and the design looks thrown together. They have not even bothered to create a favicon (thats the little icon that typically shows up with the site name in the bookmark list. This blogs is a red “R”). The one similar feature is that on one page called “Cuts” you can type in your zip code and see how much funding Kasich supposedly wants to cut from services such as schools and fire departments. The citation is simply “Legislative Service Commission” and a few dates. There is not even a link for these citations (this is a common theme throughout the site).
What KasichFacts.com has going for it is advertising. I see Twitter posts that reference KasichFacts.com far more often than TurnAroundTed.com. Many of these quotes originate from the sites themselves with a “Share This” button which tend to be more common on KasichFacts.com. Secondly, I see paid ads on Google for KasichFacts.com quite frequently. This ad recently showed up on my GMail page:
Google, like Bing, Yahoo!, etc, tries to match ads to the context. The text and keywords set by the ad’s owners is the basis for Google. The reason I see ads like this is because I have been getting a lot of mail from the Kasich campaign. This leads me to believe that KasichFacts.com is purposefully targeting Kasich supporters. A quick Google search for the term “Kasich” yields similar results. The number two result in my list is KasichFacts.com. However, their trick is to title their page as “News Alert: John Kasich” which to the casual user will seem like a legitimate neutral site about Kasich. On a related note, the only ad I see on the left site (where Google typically puts standard ads) is an ad for Strickland’s main site. A search for “Strickland” will give you pro-Strickland results and of course KasichFacts.com. In other words, search Kasich and you will get anti-Kasich and pro-Strickland sites. Search Strickland and you get similar results, anti-Kasich and pro-Strickland sites.
At the end of the day, even though TurnAroundTed.com is a better, more informed site, KasichFacts.com will win because its marketing efforts are currently out maneuvering not only TurnAroundTed.com but Kasich’s campaign in general. Both sites have strengths and weaknesses, however the strengths are not mutually exclusive. I hope TurnAroundTed.com can get its marketing efforts ramped up to compete with KasichFacts.com.
The next post will be on May 25th