Election ’06: Candidate Sites Matter in Tight VA Senate Race

webb.jpgI just heard a report on NPR’s All Things Considered during which Robert Siegel spoke with residents of the booming Virginia county of Loudoun, where, according to the ATC site, “Many of the residents are parents who typify an important group of the electorate that the political parties are vying to win over: emerging suburban voters.”

One Loudoun denizen noted she figured Siegel would be asking what they think about the two main Senate candidates in that state, Democrat Jim Webb and the increasingly self-sabotaging Republican incumbent, George Allen. So, in preparation, she went to each candidate’s site. Her conclusion: Allen’s platform was clearly presented on his site, which she appeared to appreciate.

As for Webb, she didn’t like the fact that his site portrayed him as a fighter. She doesn’t want a fighter, she explained; she wants someone who can work together with other Members of Congress. Indeed, the only photos of Webb on his bio page are of him serving in the Marine Corps.

A consultant from the firm that’s handling Allen’s site now, told me yesterday about a new anti-Webb site developed for the Allen campaign, WebbAgainstWomen.com. The site uses Webb’s writings and statements to illustrate an alleged prejudice against women, especially in relation to their role in the military.

This anti-opponent site strategy is something Republicans are doing a lot of this year. No doubt this is a direct extension of the success of the online tactics of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in ’04, in addition to a general negative GOP campaign strategy this year.

The anti-Allen crowd is fighting back, though. Search Google for “George Allen” and you’ll see two sponsored links, one leading to a collection of video clips on YouTube that put Allen in a bad light (including the now infamous “macaca” clip), in addition to one promoting a George Allen Insult Generator game on Slate.

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