(WASHINGTON) — Mitt Romney’s campaign might be asking supporters to download “Mitt’s VP” app to get the first notification of his running mate, but tea leaf readers were turning to Wikipedia for clues.
The thinking was that a flurry of Wikipedia edits indicated a potential running mate’s online persona was being scrubbed.
The popular, user-edited site has locked down the candidates’ pages after comedian Stephen Colbert encouraged viewers to update potential running mates’ Wikipedia sites with jokes and falsities.
Earlier in the week, Tech President’s Micah Sifry introduced the unassuming idea that Wikipedia activity may be an early indicator of who Romney will pick as his running mate. According to him, updates to the Wikipedia pages of previous VP contenders have suggested that the popular site might have a lead.
In the 2008 election, Sarah Palin’s Wikipedia page was updated close to 70 times the day before GOP nominee John McCain publicly announced her selection, and five days prior to the announcement there were another 54 updates made to the page.
Tim Pawlenty, one of McCain’s leading contenders for the VP pick and coincidentally one of Romney’s, too, had 54 quick updates initially, ultimately trailing Palin with only 12 in the five days prior. Vice President Joe Biden also saw an unusual spike in web activity before Obama’s big announcement back in 2008.
Earlier this week, the Wiki pages of a few of Romney’s VP choices were causing a stir. The pages of Rob Portman and Marco Rubio saw overwhelming activity.
Though Sifry’s finding seemed promising, those impatient for Romney’s VP pick might have to find a new indicator.
On Wednesday, the Tech President reported that Wikipedia put a lock on the pages of leading VP candidates in an attempt to protect them from vandalism. Contenders such as Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, and Chris Christie have all had their Wiki pages protected by site administrators allowing only registered users to makes edits.
Whether or not Wikipedia will reopen its pages to allow updates before the big announcement is unknown.
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