Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ron Paul versus Rand Paul: An Analytical Breakdown

By Simon Owens

By almost every metric, Digg likes Ron Paul much more than his son Rand.

Does this mean Rand doesn’t have as much online viral support as his father?

During the Republican primaries in 2008, nary a day went by that candidate Ron Paul wasn’t mentioned on the front page of Digg, sometimes several times in a single day. Diggers dug up on YouTube videos, favorable articles about the candidate, blog posts by Ron Paul fans, and “money bombs” intended to raise millions of dollars in a 24-hour period.

Today, his son Rand, a rising star in the Republican party who shares many of his father’s same views, has won the Kentucky US Senate Republican primaryagainst Trey Grayson. Many pundits acknowledge the “semi-celebrity status” of Rand and link it to his father’s fan base. Given this, one would think Digg, arguably the largest online outlet to push Ron into the national spotlight, would have similar maniacal support.

But a quick look at the metrics shows this isn’t the case, indicating he still has a ways to go before he has the same star power as his dad. In total, Ron’s name has been mentioned in 16,102 submitted stories, while Rand has 666. But that’s from Digg’s entire history (Ron Paul, being around longer, would have a significant advantage), what about the last month? In the last 30 days, Ron has seen 234 submitted stories mentioning his name and Rand is lagging behind with 69. The one way that Rand wins has to do with the fact that in the last month he’s had one story about him make it to the front page of Digg while his father hasn’t had any. However, in that same period, Ron has had five stories get over 50 diggs while Rand has only had one story reach that number.

What about most-Dugg posts? Ron Paul’s most-dugg story received a staggering 21,266 diggs. Rand’s most-dugg story? 1658. There are over 200 Ron Paul stories that have more Diggs than this.

What about the rest of the online sphere? Digg isn’t everything.

Within the past 30 days, 13,974 blog posts have mentioned Rand while 64,659 have covered Ron. The son eeks out a slight victory in traditional news outlets, with 1,992 mentions in Google News for the last month compared to his father’s 1,806.

So what does this mean? Well, obviously a Senate primary race isn’t as big a news event as a Presidential primary. And the quick expansion of Digg over the past two years likely means that its demographics have become increasingly mainstream. Also, many articles and blog posts mention Ron when writing about Rand, which could explain part of the reason why he receives more mentions in total. Either way, we are not being bombarded with the constant pro-Rand Paul coverage that occurred during the Ron Paul race.

Simon Owens runs Bloggasm a blog that focuses on the media, with an emphasis on online media and journalism. It often features interviews with prominent bloggers, authors and journalists. He can be reached at simon.bloggasm@gmail.com

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