Friday, February 24, 2006

Lessons In Politics

Over and over again I've seen it happen: a good candidate relies on mere ads and endorsements, but loses badly to a seemingly less notable person, just because that opponent gets out and works their tail off. Phone, walk, mail: the basis of GOTV, or Get Out The Vote activities. Even total unknowns can beat the front-runners if they will only campaign hard and ask for their votes.

It works on the web, too. A certain fright-wing site is running an on-line poll for the worst college professor in America, meaning, to them, the most dangerous leftist on campus. Just guess who they'd pick. Noam Chomsky, fierce opponent of US military policy since the sixties? Nope, as I write he's only tied for 18th place (at a mere 680 votes) with Howard Zinn of the People's History. Ward Churchill, with his criticism of people killed in the 9/11 attacks? Oh no, he's even further down at 20th with only 434. The one on top is probably not someone you would have thought of in the first dozen tries: Michael Bérubé of Penn State. In fact, he now has the gigantic total of 159,545 votes (while the also-ran in second is behind by over 70,000).

How on earth did this cheval noir run up such an incredible lead? By GOTV. Unlike his competitors, he is actually campaigning, asking for votes, to seize this title and (presumably) claim the prize in a scathing and hilarious acceptance posting on his blog. His appeal for support is at Citius, altius, fortius. He's also been endorsed by the usual suspects you would predict, such as World O'Crap at The Worst Professor Ever!, Sisyphus Shrugged at hee, and Sadly, No! at On a Happier Note... Add me to his supporter list as well, just so I'll get to read that victory rant. Vote early and often!! Accent marks über alles!!


Blogger Porlock Junior said...

Well, of course he's not only campaigning; he's benefiting from massive cheating by his supporters, who discovered that the blithering idiot in charge of the poll had not installed the least bit of protection against multiple voting from the same site, and gleefully took advantage of it. The comments thread to the Citius posting is marvelous.

Once they got tired of pushing the button over and over again, someone published a nice Python program, with full instructions for use, that will run up any number of votes you like. Using this they were able to boost the totals for other pundits whom they believed to be underrated in the poll..

Note that these gentlepersons have been scrupulous to avoid tactics that could overload the idiot's server. Fun is fun, but we lefty subversives will NOT engage in a Denial-of-Service attack. Note also the spirit of scientific inquiry on the part of those who wondered whether a vote count surpassing certain magic values (commonly used powers of 2) would cause miscounting; being reality-based, they performed the experiment, which falsified the hypothesis. Try finding that on the rightwing blogs.

1:08 PM  

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