For the past few months, Amy and I have been tracking the IP addresses of the most active commentors to our blogs, and some interesting patterns have emerged. The most vehement anti-Cox comments aren’t coming from grassroots supporters (as the Taylor camp would like you to believe), but from the Taylor campaign itself. The two IPs consistently linked to 5 identities are registered either to Mark Taylor for Governor or Mark Taylor for Lt. Governor.
But wait there’s more. They even have their own blog. The users kimberlysmith and JennyB trace (via IPs embedded in emails and comment logs), to one of the Taylor IPs. Naughty “girls”. Not that we needed software to figure that one out. No female over the age of 12 would put that many curlicues on anything, and the design and content were completely incongruous from the start.
Is this illegal? I don’t think so. Is it unethical? I don’t know. Is it hypocritical? Yes. It also doesn’t bode well for a potential Taylor run against Perdue if clumsy blogging and goofy videos are what constitute work product at Taylor HQ. Beyond that, it’s dangerous to allow unskilled kids to engage in astroturfing. Let’s face it, if Amy and I can figure this out, anyone can.
We know about 90% of our blog traffic comes from campaign offices, party offices or political junkies. We see the same screen names and IPs pop up repeatedly from blog to blog. This is a very tiny bubble we’re in and (to borrow a phrase from a recent news story), it’s way more aspirational than operational. As much as I’d like to claim otherwise, no one is reading but you, and maybe a few curious reporters. There are no votes here, or on any other blog.
For this reason, I don’t consider this some big revelation or breaking news story. I’m just stating what we’ve all known for a while, even before we had proof.
Even so, I’m not without empathy. This primary has been difficult for everyone. I completely understand the desire to push back against what sometimes seems like wall-to-wall netroots support for Cox. I’m sure it’s been demoralizing at times, and almost impossible to resist responding, especially here. But much has changed in recent weeks as two genuine metro bloggers have turned, not toward Taylor, but away from Cox. And that may be the best Team Taylor can hope for in the way of honest netroots support. Well, that and Andre.
In three short weeks we’ll all be Democrats again, and that can’t happen soon enough for me. When that day finally comes and Amy turns her formidable voice against Perdue, you’ll be glad she’s on your team. Until then, it’s time to focus on your respective campaigns, party duties and real websites (especially you TaylorTroll*). The tone and temperature of comments has spiked lately, and it’s time to give it a rest before real damage is done.
In fairness, I’ve also checked for the Cox HQ IP and have found 4 comments in the last 5 months, none of which mention Taylor. But then, Team Cox learned a hard lesson about IPs a few months back. Apparently Team Taylor is a little slower.
*TT doesn't blog from Taylor HQ, but from an even less appropriate place.