Online Momentum for Huntsman

On Monday, Jon Huntsman’s campaign manager sent the following e-mail to supporters:

Friend,

In just the last five days, our campaign has experienced a huge surge in website traffic and more than 10,000 new followers on Twitter - far outpacing any other candidate - not to mention a record amount of online donations.

Governor Huntsman's campaign is energizing voters across America who are desperately seeking a serious, experienced leader with real solutions to turn our country and economy around.

Yesterday morning, Governor Huntsman appeared on ABC's news program "This Week", and he will continue his media blitz this week to spread his message and share his vision in a series of television appearances you won't want to miss:

Monday: Piers Morgan (CNN) @ 9:00 p.m. ET - part 1

Tuesday: Squawk Box (CNBC) @ 8:30 a.m. ET

Tuesday: Piers Morgan (CNN) @ 9:00 p.m. ET - part 2

Thursday: Neil Cavuto (Fox News) @ 4-4:30 p.m. ET

Thursday: PBS Evening News Hour - check your local listings

Saturday: The Mike Huckabee Show (Fox News) @ 8:00 p.m. ET

Sunday: Meet the Press (NBC) - check your local listings

Our nation is facing severe problems, and to solve them we need serious, responsible leadership, not partisan rhetoric.

Unlike his opponents, Governor Huntsman will not pander for votes; he will continue to level with the American people about the tough choices ahead and bring people together to enact long-term solutions.

Be sure to catch the Governor on television this week, and if you like what you hear,please consider a donation of $5, $10, $25 or more. Your participation is critical to our campaign's success.

Sincerely,

Matt David
Campaign Manager

Huntsman, who has been struggling in the most recent polls, has all of a sudden become very critical of his Republican opponents.  The reason that this e-mail caught my attention though was how it touted Huntsman’s online victories against his opponents.  Matthew Hindman in his book, The Myth of Digital Democracy, argues that the media interprets “online victories” as momentum.  Is Huntsman really experiencing momentum, or just increased media exposure?  Can we really gauge a candidate’s viability based on their number of Twitter followers?

In fact, I would argue that Huntsman’s online momentum is almost entirely from the evolution tweet that he sent last week.  That tweet is also not winning him many conservative supporters.  For instance, a National Tea Party Alert e-mail said:

Ambassador Huntsman's is willing to embrace an agenda that is only proven using falsified data and junk science is curious, to say the least. Theres' no evidence thatHuntsman, as an executive with Huntsman Corporation, the publicly traded chemical corporation founded by his father, ever advocated any environmental policies. in fact,Huntsman Corporation first gained prominence by developing the extremely environmentally damaging foam containers once used by fast food restaurants to package their food. There's no evidence whatsoever that Huntsman, Jr. ever made any effort to diversify the family company or provided any earth-friendly solutions for the company's number one product.


Considering that Huntsman appears to have very little credibility in environmental issues (the Huntsman Foundation focuses on education and cancer research, not environmental causes), then the only conclusion we can draw from AmbassadorHuntsman's stance is that he's pursuing the John McCain strategy of running against the very party he hopes to lead. We all know that's a successful strategy, just ask President John McCain.

In other words, Huntsman might have momentum, just not the kind that will get him the Republican nomination.