Voters, tell us what you want: Should BlogHer interview presidential candidates or stick to their spouses?
This headline isn't a gimmick--it represents a real choice BlogHer needs to make in our 2008 Election coverage, and we need to hear from you and your readers to head in the right direction (see poll below).
BlogHer's Election 2008 coverage was created in response to the terrific enthusiasm this community demonstrated while developing our non-partisan 2008 Voter Manifesto, twelve policy questions American women have about health care, Iraq, the economy and the environment.
Frankly, however, our political team is confused by the response of presidential candidates to BlogHer, and to some other organizations and blogs by women. For the past six months, BlogHer has invited seven leading presidential candidates -- Democratic and Republican, we're non-partisan -- to participate with BlogHer's influential, passionate community of now 7.6 million techno-savvy women, who write and read thousands of influential blogs. While our editors, Morra Aarons-Mele and Mary Katharine Ham have made in-roads with the campaigns and we do have another year until Election Day, at this point we've been told no, both in words and in actions, as have some other women's blogs and political groups.
And there’s more -- what really confuses us is that:
I believe these candidates are missing a key piece of the social media puzzle where women voters are concerned so I'll spell it out here: BlogHer's surveys demonstrate time and again the extraordinary influence of women who blog. According to our most recent survey, 62 percent of our bloggers and their readers have purchased a product based on a recommendation from a blogger and 52 percent have recommended a product to friends online. Presidential candidates – the ultimate product in an election year -- who earn the votes of these women stand to benefit from blogger influence in our communities! Women who blog are an essential and influential segment of the American female population that has made up the majority of American voters since 1964.
So our question is, do we want to be marketed to by presidential campaigns or spoken with? And by whom? We think that if they want to get our votes, candidates themselves should answer our questions in the Voter Manifesto. But only if that’s the course this community supports. So -- could you please lead us in the right direction by answering these questions and asking your readers to help us too by posting this poll on your blog? We’ll take all our votes and our voices on this poll right to the presidential campaigns.
How Should Presidential Candidates Earn Women’s Votes?
CLICK HERE to take the survey questions described below
1. Do you want BlogHer to talk with the candidates themselves -- Obama, Hillary, Mitt, etc.-- or will their families and supporters -- Oprah, Chelsea, Ann, etc. -- do?
Spouses and supporters
2. Do you want presidential candidates to answer policy questions in the Voter Manifesto?
Yes, on video
Yes, in print
No, the candidates don't have to but the campaign should
No, I have a different question I'd like to ask: (Open-ended question)
3. Are you turned on or turned off by the candidate’s tactics to reach moms (as spelled out below)?
I like efforts like “Women for Obama” and “Moms for Hillary”
I’m turned off by these efforts
4. Do you want BlogHer to interview mainstream media personalities who have interviewed and know the candidates and their positions?
Katie Couric | CBS
Gwen Ifill | PBS
Mara Liasson | NPR
Barbara Walters | ABC
5. Where do you get most of your news?
6. Do you have a message for the candidates about this initiative that you’d like to share?
Thank you so much for voting! And to provide you with more information, here's a timeline of the past year and the work BlogHer has done to bring your questions to candidates:
-Democratic Senators Obama and Clinton announce candidacies in same week, resulting in a rash of excited election-related posts from blogs that rarely if ever talk politics
-BlogHer reaches out to representatives of Democratic and Republican campaigns to invite staffers to speak at and/or to attend BlogHer 2007 in Chicago.
- Clinton and Edwards campaigns send representatives to BlogHer 2007, with 800 women in Chicago. Elizabeth Edwards keynotes.
- All seven Democratic candidates attend the Yearly Kos convention in Chicago, with 1,000 progressive political bloggers. In response, PunditMom blogs "An Open Letter From the Candidates" on The Huffington Post.
- BlogHer is offered interviews via conference call with two wives of presidential candidates, Michelle Obama and Ann Romney.
- Rudy Giuliani addresses 1,500 women at the National Federation of Republican Women in Palm Springs, CA; he is the only Republican candidate to attend.
- The Chicago Moms Blog invites the Obamas to a meeting and get turned down, while a sister blogger on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog donates her way into a meeting they have with Oprah.
- Hillary Clinton agrees to answer questions submitted to iVillage.
-BlogHer invites Candidates Clinton, Edwards, Obama, (Democrats) and Giuliani, McCain, Romney and Thompson (Republicans) to answer Voter Manifesto questions on-camera, including an offer to fly to the U.S. location of the candidate's choice and be interviewed for 15 minutes by a member of her or his own political party, by either Editor Morra Aarons or Editor Mary Katharine Ham (also of Townhall.com). No candidate accepts.
-BlogHer co-sponsors 10questions.com, a techpresident.com initiative co-sponsored by The New York Times and MSNBC.
-BlogHer re-invites candidates to answer Voter Manifesto questions on-camera. No candidate accepts.
-BlogHer members submit questions to 10questions.
Dec 2007: BlogHer re-invites candidates.
-Candidates John Edwards and Mike Huckabee submit answers to 10questions.com. Candidate Ron Paul also agrees to participate, according to the site.
- Sen. Obama tours Iowa with Oprah Winfrey and his campaign launches "Women for Obama":
"As part of the Obama for America campaign effort to engage women across the country, the Women for Obama team is reaching out to women's political blogs, seeking ways to bring useful information about Barack, his policies, his record and his approach to leadership to women on line.
"Would you be interested in sharing information about Barack with your readers? Perhaps by linking to our website (www.women.barackobama.com)? Could we send you our weekly e-newsletter, for use in your own blog? Do you ever invite guest bloggers? We would happily arrange for a senior member of Barack's political or policy advisory teams to provide insight into the campaign, his policy proposals, how women are reacting to or affected by the election, etc.
"As background, Women for Obama is a national grassroots network of 20,000 women working in the field every day on behalf of Senator Barack Obama. They serve as the backbone of our operation on the ground by reaching out to undecided women and organizing supporters to play an active role in their communities to help elect Obama their next President. Through organizing activities such as canvassing, phone banks, book clubs, house parties, community donation drives, caucus and primary trainings, fundraising and online outreach, Women for Obama has engaged women throughout this country who are now positioned to make the difference in this election..."
- A few days later, Sen. Clinton's campaign launches Moms for Hillary with this offer:
"Sign up to become a Mom for Hillary and you could win a special Mom's Night Out!
"The holidays are in full swing - what would you want most? A night when you can put up your feet with your favorite pals and have someone throw a party for YOU! You can be that one lucky person who is randomly selected from the first moms who sign-up on the Moms for Hillary website to receive a fabulous - and very unique - prize.
"Not one - but two - former White House Social Secretaries, Ann Stock and Capricia Marshall, will plan and execute a lovely gathering for you and your favorite moms. They will come with a bundle of campaign goodies, including t-shirts, bumper stickers, a signed book and lots of stories about Hillary.
"Holidays are Hillary's favorite time of the year! Let Ann and Capricia tell you all about Hillary's family's special traditions and favorite things! The event will be at a venue and date selected at the discretion of the Committee in consultation with the winner."
Again, please let these candidates know who you are and what you think! We invite you to add your comments to this post, as well as link your blog and any of your writings about our question or any Election 2008 issue. If you are so inspired, we would very much appreciate your help spreading the word about this poll, which you can place on your own blog by copying and pasting this link.
We look forward to your thoughts –
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