- First of all…who the hell are they?
- Next…what are the differences between them?
- Finally…why should I give a damn?
Those were the questions burning in my mind as I got up around noon today.
Yeah, a little late…but I work in a bar on the weekends and don’t get off until after 2. Then I usually go home and watch half a movie or so, have a few beers, and get to bed around 4 or 5.
And then I wake up thinking of politics.
I can assure you, no one downtown is talking about politics. No one downtown knows who these House candidates are. Honestly, no one gives a shit.
Well, regular people don’t…and today you’ll get another regular person’s opinion.
When I want to remember who the 6, 2018 U.S. House candidates from Montana are, I usually visit Ballotpedia.
I’m pretty good at remembering 3 of them – Heenan, Kier, and Woods. The other 3 – Moss, Pettinato, and Williams – I easily forget.
I think you forget those three, too.
Well, today let’s talk about them, and more than that…let’s visit their campaign websites and figure out just how similar all these peoples’ messages really are.
Yeah…the differences. I’ll tell you right now…there ain’t much.
We’ll get into that as we get into their websites. First, though…let’s look at how ‘big’ there names are. We’ll do this by typing their name into Google, and then analyzing the first page of the Search Engine Results Page, or SERP.
We’ll only look at the first page of the SERP, as that’s about as far as most Google users ever go…and most never even look past the first 3 results.
We’ll begin with John Heenan.
John Heenan was the first to throw his hat into the ring. Personally, I give people points for that. It’s hard going first. It’s hard putting yourself out there when no one else has…especially when you’re an unknown like Heenan was.
When I type his name into Google I get his website first, then his website’s About Us page, next his Facebook page, then a Helena IR article and after that a Heenan Law Firm website.
Those are the first 5 results, and the next 5 consist of a Missoula Current article, a Last Best News article, a Crowdpac article, a KULR8 article, and another Heenan law firm article.
Let’s turn to Grant Kier.
When I type Grant Kier’s name into Google I get his website first, then his Facebook page, and after that a Missoula Current article. Next is his Twitter feed, then a KGVO article (KGVO is a conservative station in Missoula, and also the most listened-to radio station in Montana), and after that a GF Trib article.
The next 5 results show us a LinkedIn profile, a Ballotpedia bio, a Helena IR piece, and finally a YouTube video announcing his campaign.
Next up is Lynda Moss.
When I type her name into Google I get her Wikipedia profile first, then an article from Spokane’s Spokesman, and after that a Tardis Wiki article on her (yeah…I have no idea what that last one is, either).
Then there’s a Ballotpedia article and, finally, the 5th result is Moss’s website.
After that we get a KGVO article, a KTVQ article, an MTPR article, a Last Best News piece, and some images…most of which aren’t of the Lynda Moss we’re talking about.
Moving on to Jared Pettinato.
The first search result we get is a site called Beyond Party. This is a website that Pettinato writes, and which he started in April 2016. It’s a blog, and I think that’s kinda cool. I wish more politicians would do this.
When we get back to the SERP we see that the next result is a U.S. News and World Report article, then his official campaign website, and after that a Flathead Beacon piece, and finally a GF Trib piece.
The next 5 results are a Crowdpac article, a LinkedIn profile, an ID/MT Post article, and finally his Facebook page.
After this we get to Kathleen Williams.
The first search result is a Bozeman Daily Chronicle article, then her website, and then a KTVQ article, followed by a U.S. News and World Report piece, and then her Facebook page.
The next 5 results give us her Wikipedia page, her Act Blue page, her legislative profile page (two of those) and finally an article on her from MTPR.
Finally, let’s look at Tom Woods.
This is a common name, so Tom suffers here when it comes to the SERP.
The first result is for The Tom Woods Show, then a Twitter page and podcasts for that “liberty education” person. Next up is an ‘About Us’ page for that person, then his website, and then his Wikipedia page.
Really, if you want to know about Tom Woods from Montana you have to put that “Montana” on the end.
Then we get Tom’s website, his Wikipedia page, a GF Trib article, a Ballotpedia page, and a Bozeman Daily Chronicle piece. After that it’s his legislative pages, a LinkedIn profile, and that’s about it.
So…why’d we go through all this bullshit?
Because this is what many Montanans are going to do as this election heats up – they’re going to go to Google, type in that person’s name, and look at what they see.
This can either help a candidate, or hurt them. In my book Social Media Politics, I wrote a whole section on co-opting your opponent’s message, ruining their message, and making their website worthless.
One of the main points I made was that you want the favorable things about your opponent to show up further down on the SERP page while you want the unfavorable things to show up near the top.
Take those KGVO articles – they sure as shit ain’t gonna help a Democratic candidate. Driving those kinds of things down the SERP would be a worthwhile pursuit for these campaigns.
How do you do that?
This article became a bit longer than I thought, so I’m breaking it up into two parts.
Later today we’ll analyze the candidates and their positions, and whether there’s any substantive differences between them.