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How organized religion, not net religion, won it for Bush

Not even a gay, blogging Jesus could help

Election 2004 Technophobes and luddites won the election for George W Bush in 2004, not technology-toting bloggers, by turning out the vote. The giant, self-congratulatory humpfest that is the blogger nation really didn't do much at all for the Democrats, despite Joe Trippi telling anyone who'll listen that the internet transformed politics. For voter turn-out was markedly higher in the states with the lowest broadband penetration.

Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and California have the highest broadband penetration and all went to Kerry. Meanwhile, Mississippi, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and New Mexico have the lowest penetration and all went to Bush. But the rise in votes was proportionately higher in states where the internet doesn't reach so many people.

In blogless Mississippi, Bush received 666,000 votes in 2004 compared to 549,000 in 2000. That's more than a 20 per cent increase in votes. (Somehow we doubt that P. Diddy threatening youngsters in Mississippi to "Vote or Die" did much to inspire youth turnout.) Kerry picked up 440,000 in Mississippi compared to Gore's 400,000 votes - about a 10 per cent difference.

What about a battleground, internet-wary state like New Mexico? The Land of Enchantment chucked 370,000 votes Bush's way in 2004 compared to 286,000 in 2000, when Bush lost the state. Kerry picked up 362,000 compared to Gore's 286,000.

These numbers prove little other than that voting totals increased handily and always in Bush's favor in states largely considered lacking in IT but strong in Jesus.

In broadband rich Connecticut, Kerry picked up 848,000 votes compared to Gore's 796,000. That's close to a 6 per cent rise. Bush earned 687,000 votes in 2004 compared to 546,000 in 2000. That's a handy 26 per cent gain. In New Jersey, the story is similar. Kerry pulled in 1.8m votes compared to Gore's 1.75m. Bush, however, nabbed 1.6m votes in 2004 versus 1.3m in 2000.

With all those statistics out of the way, we're left with one conclusion. A year ago we were told that One Blogger is Worth Ten Votes. In reality, however, it may be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for bloggers to deliver you the election.

This is the most obvious and frivolous takeaway from this year's election/revival. For months, the internet was buzzed by so-called citizen journalists - otherwise known as message board tools - who convinced each other that they were making a difference. They often analyzed their own convincing and then concluded that they were indeed right.

Then W. won and did so by a larger margin than in 2000. But has anyone told Joe Trippi?

A long strange Trippi

"What has been amazing this year is the creativity of Generation E’s members to spur and engage more of its generation to become involved and make a difference," Trippi claims in his blog. And later on, he writes -

"Young Americans are awake like never before and studies show the earlier a voter becomes an active voter the more likely they are to be active voters throughout their life. Politicians beware. A generational giant has been awakened."

There are so many things wrong with this, and with Trippi himself, that it's hard to know where to begin.

Let's at least start by looking at what the droopy god of blog scum was trying to explain. Trippi questions the numerous analysts who don't believe the youth vote was all that spectacular this election. There were more young voters, but there were more voters period as a result of population increases and shared hatred. Trippi tells us that the pundits are missing the point. Close to 10 per cent more young voters showed up this time around, the youngsters "were especially active in battleground states," and many voted with absentee ballots, meaning they were missed by exit polls.

If, however, more young people did show up, they weren't terribly impressive.

All week long, Joe Trippi dangled his jowls on MSNBC, on the basis of an unsuccessful campaign, and we seem to remember, for getting himself sacked after boosting his favorite DRM company while getting the dumb Doc to advocate TCPA: the lock-down computing Microsoft wants to build into Windows to stop you sharing music. Again and again, he promised that the internet and bloggers would bring out the youth vote. NPR gladly repeated this almost every day. And then, like Zogby, he stuck to his promises despite so much evidence to the contrary. Again and again, he told America that Kerry had pulled in eight times as much money as Bush online. The perky MSNBC drones next to him guffawed at the rich evidence of web success.

The blogger army fell right into line behind Trippi. It told itself how awful W was. It told itself how much "it" matters - how it showed those swift boat veterans a thing or two. How the internet is freedom and how rapid communication is "pretty awesome," as our president might say.

"I’ve written a lot in my "Trippi’s Take" columns about how the Internet empowers the bottom, and how that empowerment energizes citizen involvement that can create real change in an otherwise top-down world," Trippi again writes.

Trippi isn't the only one to blame. All the blogging believers are at fault.

Even if Jesus set up a blogging cafe in the center of Rockport, Texas and extolled the virtues of a woman's right to choose while snapping pictures of gay weddings with his Nokia, it would have made no difference to this election. All of the bloggers would have told themselves about the miracle, while Bobby and Bobby Sue went right along with their business.

The longer the Democrats pretend that their vacuum of righteousness is actually reaching the public at large, helped by NPR, the more trouble they will be in. Be it an internet wasteland like New Mexico or fat pipe rich Connecticut, it doesn't matter. George W. Bush kicked your blogging ass.

Now internet zombies need to take lessons from those Dems that actually got out and participated in the world. Most of the evangelicals in Alabama certainly weren't reading to summon up their inspiration to vote. No, they had a fearless leader screaming at them about fear and impending doom. If the Democrats want to make some gains over the next four years, they'd be well suited to get a message with some substance and weight instead hoping that empty technology will somehow save them. ®

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