05/03/2012 07:23 pm ET

Life Of Julia: Welcome To The Trollgaze Campaign

The latest social media innovation from the Obama campaign is called "The Life Of Julia." It is not, as the title suggests, some outré piece of high-toned erotica. Rather, it's an interactive web doohickey that allows users to walk through life in the shoes of a young woman -- a "composite," if you will -- named Julia, as she benefits at every turn from various policies the White House has either passed or promoted or promises for the near future.

Taken on its own, it's hard to say how effective it will be as a means of getting out the vote. Perhaps there will eventually be exit polling in November on whether people were moved to vote based upon what was going on with a pretend person on the internet. What is pretty clear is that if nothing else, it forced the GOP to react to it, rather than do whatever else they had planned to do today. As Rachel Weiner reports for The Fix:

... talking about Julia means talking about women voters and women’s issues, where Obama dominates. And by talking about a fictional woman named Julia, Republicans just drive more people to Obama’s campaign website.

But Republicans argue that they did what they should do -- confront Obama on the same turf.

“We fought back with a Tumblr post and tweets using the realities for Julia under Obama's economy,” said RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski. “We have the facts on our side when it comes to women and the economy and we intend to use those while Team Obama dreams up the next gimmick.”

This doesn't really qualify as "fighting on the same turf," though. Rather, it describes the fact that the Obama administration successfully trolled the RNC, and they had to spend part of their day using their social media platforms giving their opponents their due. In the world of high-information, high-octane partisans, this is no big deal -- all over Twitter today, such people gave worthy snark. For the fence-sitters, however, who knows? Maybe they found "The Life Of Julia" convincing.

Again, I'm skeptical that "The Life Of Julia" is going to have some measurable electoral impact. But there's a balance that could get tilted depending on who spends the bulk of the campaign doing the provoking and who spends that time reacting. Over at the Washington Examiner, Philip Klein frets that the Romney campaign is revealing a tendency to do all the reacting. "Here is where Romney is failing," he writes, "His campaign is allowing the president to change the subject."

Though the general election won't begin in earnest until September, after both Romney and Obama have formally accepted their respective parties' nominations, it effectively began when Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign on April 10.

Since that time, three stories have dominated the political news cycle. The first came when Hilary Rosen, a Democratic operative, said Ann Romney "never worked a day in her life." The next came when the Romney campaign promoted a Daily Caller story recounting that Obama had eaten dog as a child in Indonesia. The most recent came as Obama decided to spike the football before the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's killing, releasing an ad suggesting Romney wouldn't have made the same call.

In all of these cases, the Romney campaign has taken the bait, reacting to whatever Team Obama has decided to make an issue.

I'm not sure that we can properly build a "trollgaze index" for politics and make conclusions about its relevance as an electoral indicator, but I imagine it's more advantageous to be the "troller" and not the "trollee."

(The term "trollgaze index" is lovingly appropriated from Village Voice music editor Maura Johnston, who invented it, because she loves America.)


The Thick Of It: Speaking of the Romney campaign having unnecessary reactions to things, the Guardian reports that various unnamed Romney aides are all a-grouse because UK Prime Minister David Cameron said some generically nice things about President Obama. The Cameron comments that ran afoul include, "You don't get to choose the leaders that you have to work with. But all I can say is that it is a pleasure to work with someone with moral strength, with clear reason and with fundamental decency in this task of renewing our great national alliance for today and for the generations to follow." Couldn't the Romney campaign just let that go? It's not like swing voters are known for taking their cues from Downing Street. A Romney senior aide, nevertheless, had this to say of Cameron's praise: "You don't take sides in an election year." Dude, I'm pretty sure that the Brits will do whatever they want to do during our "election year." [Guardian]

Surprise, Arizona: Is Arizona going to be a battleground state for the Obama campaign? Curb your enthusiasm: "a new Magellan Strategies survey finds Mitt Romney with a comfortable 9-point lead over President Obama, 52 percent to 43 percent." As Taegan Goddard notes, it was 9 points that separated Obama and McCain in 2008. [Taegan Goddard's Political Wire]

For 2008 Nostalgics Only: It just doesn't feel like a presidential primary even happened without some Mike Gravel data point, which Dave Weigel thoughtfully provides, at Michele Bachmann's expense. [Weigel @ Slate]

New Frontiers In Unnecessary Polling: Partycrashing weirdo Tareq Salahi is "polling suprisingly well" in his nonsensical bid to be Virginia's next governor, so long as you can stretch the definitions of "surprise" and "well" to include Salahi getting completely obliterated by a fantasy opponent. [Politico]

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