Follow us:

UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Author archives

You are currently viewing all posts written by Kathy Gill. Digital evangelist, writer, motorcyclist. Communications faculty at the University of Washington. Transplanted Southerner who has been in Seattle long enough to have moss in her toes.

October 22, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Seattle Times Ad Buy Leads To Newsroom, Reader Protests

Newspaper political endorsements are made by the editorial board, not anyone in the newsroom, in order to maintain the integrity of the reporting process. But what happens to newspaper credibility if the company itself takes out an ad for a candidate or initiative?

Rob McKenna ad in Seattle Times

Part of the Seattle Times ad, page B6, Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It happened Wednesday, and only in the printed version of The Seattle Times. But the controversy and conversation have played out on Facebook, Twitter and blogs — both mainstream media and organizational.

“It” was an unprecedented act.

The Seattle Times Co. placed a full-page ad on page B6 asking voters to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. It’s an independent expenditure (meaning not coordinated with the campaign) valued at almost $80,000.

And the ad donation makes the Seattle Times the third largest independent contributor to the McKenna campaign, after Our Washington and Stand for the Children WA PAC.

In defending its actions, the company set up a new Twitter account, @SeattleTimesCo:

There has been exactly one tweet, and no response to the three readers who replied.


Comments | More in State | Topics: seattle times

August 16, 2012 at 11:18 PM

In digital campaign for president, Obama far more active than Romney

Social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter and Youtube channels became part of the political communication mix during the 2008 Presidential election. How do the Obama and Romney campaigns compare as we approach November 2012?

If an election outcome rested on how well a campaign does with Twitter, then President Barack Obama’s camp would be focused not on November 2012 but January 2013. Not only is the Obama campaign out-tweeting the Mitt Romney team but the Obama tweets are being shared at a rate of 17-to-1 compared with Romney’s.

Obama leads Romney

Project for Excellence in Journalism, August 2012

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism analyzed the digital activity of the two campaigns over a two-week period in June. The report shows that there is a “digital gap” between the presumed Republican and Democratic candidates for president, just as there was between Obama and John McCain in 2008.

The report reviews candidate activity across a mature set of digital platforms: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube plus the campaign websites. In June, the Obama campaign had a presence on nine platforms: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Spotify, Twitter (@BarackObama plus five others), Tumblr and YouTube. The Romney campaign had public accounts on five: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Twitter and YouTube; it has subsequently added Tumblr and Spotify, according to the report.

Obama established a broad digital presence in 2008 and has maintained it throughout his presidency. Thus it is not surprising that his digital support dwarfs Romney’s.

But it is not even close, in ways that are intriguing.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, Facebook, Mitt Romney

August 12, 2012 at 11:44 PM

Monday eye-opener: First reactions to Romney’s VP pick, and Giffords moves home

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced U.S. Rep Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate on Saturday. According to, President Obama welcomed Ryan to the race and referred to him as “an articulate spokesman for Gov. Romney’s vision.” Meantime, according to, former Presidential hopeful John McCain considered Romney’s pick  a “bold…


Comments | More in National | Topics: eyeopener, Gabrielle Giffords, Gallup

August 11, 2012 at 9:38 AM

Six things about Paul Ryan that may be surprising

Paul Ryan, Official Photo

Rep. Paul Ryan, Official Congressional Photo

In the 112th Congress, Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin just announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate, is one of the most powerful members of the GOP. He’s the House Budget Committee Chairman, a highly influential insider.

Here are six interesting things about Ryan.

1. He was elected to Congress in 1998. At the age of 28. “I learned economics working for Jack Kemp,” he said in 1999. Kemp served in the George H.W. Bush administration, and he was Bob Dole’s running mate in 1996. And as a point of note, Kemp was the supply-side economics messiah.

2. When Ryan was 16, his father died. Ryan attended Miami University (Ohio) with help from Social Security survivor benefits, which he collected until age 18. Average annual 4-year public university tuition and fees in 1988 was an inflation-adjusted $2,800. He studied economics and political science, graduating in 1992. Six years later, he was a Congressman from Wisconsin’s first district.

3. Like many in politics, when his party’s in power, his budget philosophy differs dramatically from when the other folks are in the White House. For example, he voted yes on President Bush’s expansion of Medicare’s drug benefit. In 2005, the Washington Post reported that the White House had revised its estimated costs of the program:

[T]he new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost more than $1.2 trillion in the coming decade, a much higher price tag than President Bush suggested when he narrowly won passage of the law in late 2003…. As recently as September, Medicare chief Mark B. McClellan said the new drug package would cost $534 billion over 10 years.

As Bruce Bartlett noted in 2009, “the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit.”


Comments | More in National | Topics: GOP, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan

August 1, 2012 at 8:12 AM

Pew: Democrats and Independents support gay marriage

Pew - July gay marriage poll

Summary of Pew Research July poll

Gay marriage may be the litmus test for the 2012 election cycle. It’s certainly shaping up that way for a lot of Democrats.

Two-thirds of self-identified Democrats and half the independents polled by the Pew Forum on Religion and Life last month support gay marriage.

And although only 24 percent of Republicans share this attitude today, even the GOP shows a steady growth in support over time.

Key to the change in attitude appears to be a change in how society views homosexuality in general.


Comments | More in National, State | Topics: gay marriage, Pew Research, R-74

July 26, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Charter Schools Initiative 1240 bankrolled by tech millionaires

For the fourth time since 1996, Washington State will have a November ballot measure on charter schools. This one, like each of its predecessors, is the brainchild of a handful of technology giants.

school bus

Photo courtesy Michigan Department of Education.

SEATTLE — Coming to our ballot in November is a measure, Initiative 1240, asking Washington voters to allocate public tax revenues to alternative schools. These “charter schools” are exempt from some government rules and regulations and have greater flexibility in curriculum and teaching methods.

Actually, we should say coming again to the ballot.

State voters voted down charter school ballot measures in 1996, 2000, and 2004. But some wealthy individuals are committed to these schools and are funding I-1240. It would allow up to 40 independent public schools to operate in the state.

Of the $2.3 million raised by the “Yes on I-1240” campaign as of the July 6 signature filing deadline to get the initiative on the ballot, the state’s Public Disclosure Commission reports $1.6 million came from seven families tied to Microsoft. Add one Amazon family to this tech millionaires club, and the total is $2.1 million.

Microsoft executives Bill Gates and Paul Allen have been major supporters of this family of ballot measures to the tune of more than $5 million.

Other heavy hitters have joined the cause since the filing deadline. Specifically, Alice Walton of the Walmart family donated $600,000 while Seattle philanthropists Bruce and Jolene McCaw ponied up $100,000. The Secretary of State’s office certified the initiative for the November ballot yesterday, by which time the total raised was $3.2 million.


Comments | More in State | Topics: Bill Gates, charter schools, I-1240