September 15, 2008

McCain vs. Obama on the Web

The V.P. Announcements

Sarah Palin

After the GOP convention, McCain’s Web site fully integrated Sarah Palin into the home page—both visually and textually. Of the 17 pictures on the home page, nine feature Palin, and the two largest and most prominent photographs on the page feature Palin and McCain together. In the 12 days after Palin’s announcement, almost 20 of the 40 news stories featured on McCain’s Web site featured Palin.

The McCain Web site devotes a page to introducing Sarah Palin with three videos: a four-minute biographical piece, her remarks following McCain’s VP announcement, and her speech to the Republican National Convention. The page also contains the text of her remarks the announcement of her selection.

Joe Biden

The Obama campaign incorporated its vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden into the Web site, but only to limited degree. Gone is the “Barack Obama: Change We Can Believe In” home page tagline, which was replaced by “Barack Obama and Joe Biden: The Change We Need.” The main Web site banner also includes a photo of both men on the Democratic ticket.

The substantive changes to the Obama site are limited to the inclusion of the biographies of Biden and his wife Jill. The biography has two three sections, with an insert statement speaking to the candidate’s character, a personal history and “key career accomplishments.” The Obama blog also now features a “Road Blog” devoted to the VP hopeful’s travels and events, including videos of speeches and town hall style talks.

The Other Side’s VP

Shortly after Obama announced Joe Biden as his running mate, the McCain Web site featured a page devoted to examining his record—including a section documenting Biden gaffes.

A prominent claim centered on remarks Biden made in 2007, when he was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, when he asserted about Obama: “I think he can be ready, but right now I don’t believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.”

After the GOP convention, the site only retains “Joe Biden on Barack Obama,” a video advertisement summarizing those claims. As of at least September 9, the page was not on the McCain Web site.

For its part, the Obama Web site generally avoids Palin on the main news elements of the site. The only video ad on Obama’s YouTube site that addresses McCain’s selection of Palin, “No Change,” avoids criticism of the Alaska governor, and doesn’t even mention the vice-presidential candidate by name. Unofficial community blogs written on my.barackobama.com by site users are the only places where Palin is criticized.