Saturday, June 03, 2006

Elections Part 1: Angelides vs. Westly

This will be the first of several posts about the elections on Tuesday, June 6. Probably the "biggest" of them is the Democratic Party's primary for its gubernatorial candidate. There are many candidates, but for whatever reason, it has become a two-man contest: Phil Angelides vs. Steve Westly. These two guys are so similar it's ridiculous. They have almost identical views on everything. I will probably vote for Schwarzenegger regardless of who wins this. Angelides seems to favor more taxes and seems like more of a union whip, so that makes me lean for Westly. However, I thought it would be interesting the compare these guys on another, more technical level -- by examining their campaign websites.

Phil Angelides for Governor -- His site is pretty simple, nothing too Flashy. Examining its HTML, it seems pretty clean. Structurally it looks like a good designer setup the page templates. There is a LOT of JavaScripts sprinkled through the pages, instead of in typical JS files. Seems a little hacked together. Closer examination reveals a lot of the inline JS is for WebTrends analysis, so that was probably hacked in after the pages were designed. It was also quickly clear that the site was using Java, and in particular Resin. This was obvious when I tried the search box and got an exception for the result (clearly a text parsing exception to boot.) So extra points for using Java and even more for using Resin. Can't be too happy with a page bombing like that though...

Westly for Governor -- Definitely a Flashier site with more effects. A look at the HTML and it looks very 1990's. Lots and lots of embedded tables. Closer inspection reveals that it's all written in ASP.NET, so probably a lot of the HTML was generated by Visual Studio. Hence the tables-gone-wild approach. No crashes at least. Still ASP.NET is a little disappointing for a former eBay guy who still lives in Atherton. You're not running for governor of Washington! Definitely a more hip site though. It even has an RSS feed.

So in the end, I'd have to favor Angelides' site, despite its lack of hipness and broken search results. At least it has a search, Westly's does not and neither does The Governator's. It wasn't a clear enough of victory though, so I'll probably still vote for Westly for the reasons listed at the beginning.

2 comments:

terry chay said...

Ignoring the politics which I don't necessarily agree with and concentrating on the web here.

I think Korea offers probably the best model of where the U.S. is headed in terms of the efficacy of online strategy and websites in terms of local, state and national political campaigns. It has had a huge impact.

There is a recent blog entry about a different governor’s race that you might find interesting. The “translation” into Spanish, French, and Portuguese is quite a neat point (something I missed because Korea is completely homogenous in terms of culture and language).

You might remember in college how I used to remark about how the internet is going to make capital more liquid (long before the internet bubble). I feel similar about politics and political discussion. We’re in the knee and the slope is going to get larger here in terms of the internet shaping politics.

Currently, from my junk mail experiences, the Republican party had a huge edge, owing mostly to people in my generation being conservatives, but now that balance is shifting and the internet has started to become a strong and ever-increasing more powerful watchdog and component of politics.

Just think that in a number of years historians will be using the wayback machine to analyze political campaigns of the past. It is an amazing time.

Michael said...

It is natural that as people go online for the majority of their information, it is also where they will form their political opinions. If that wasn't enough, the futile attempt to regulate campaigns creates a huge potential advantage for those who most cleverly employ technical circumvention via non-traditional (thus less regulated) media.

As for yet another Democrats vs. Republicans ... perhaps the GOP had an early mover advantage. At first it might be surprising since some of the most "online" states tend to be blue states. However, those states also tend to be more politically homogenous. In the more borderline states, demographics probably win out. The people in those states who might be the most easily reached via the internet may also be the people that the GOP would most want to reach. When its religious fundamentalists vs. minorities + union workers, the votes of the educated middle/upper middle class can be swing votes that can be swung electronically.