Gov. Bill Richardson is the king of the blogosphere.
Well, vice president of the progressive blogosphere, anyway.
On April 9, nearly 5,600 users chimed in on the final round of the "Obama Veepstakes," a 31-round-elimination poll on dailykos.com, a popular liberal blog. In the early rounds, Richardson easily defeated Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-SD, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
Richardson won the contest against the other finalist, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., with 3,149 votes to 2,443, or 56 percent. While 5,600 votes is substantial for any online poll, the results are still only a sliver of Daily Kos' 812,000 daily visitors.
Oddly enough, Sven Stromann, the contributor who coordinated the poll, is a German national who also blogs on Nevada politics at mysilverstate.com. Despite the thousands of nautical miles between Las Vegas and Mannheim, Germany, Stromann has his finger on the pulse of electronic politics.
"Well, I wouldn't overvalue this," Stromann tells SFR via Skype. "What the people in this poll don't know is what Obama is looking for and what the vetting of the different candidates might turn up…Though, it would clearly help to know that the netroots are behind his choice."
Throughout his presidential campaign, Richardson denied his bid was designed to prove himself a viable presidential candidate. However, Richardson has since told the press he would consider a position in Democratic candidate Barack Obama's cabinet. But as far as veep goes, his office is still playing coy.
"The Governor is grateful for the strong support, but he is focused on helping Senator Obama become the next President of the US and nothing more," spokesman Allan Oliver wrote in an e-mail to SFR mere hours before the Daily Kos results were finalized. Oliver confirmed that Richardson's office was watching the polls; he even had a print-out of results on his desk.
Stromann's VP choice was Sebelius, who, as chair emeritus of the Democratic Governors Association, delivered the Democratic Party's response to President George W Bush's 2008 State of the Union address.
"I think Richardson's win is in equal parts owed to his résumé, him having appeal among Hispanic voters (which Obama still lacks while he's slowly making up on that) and his recent endorsement of Obama," Stromann says.
The big surprise to Stromann was that John Edwards was eliminated in the first round.
"A lot of Kossacks were behind Edwards' presidential run, more so than were initially for Obama," Stromann says. "It was also evident that Hillary Clinton herself and Hillary supporters like [Sen. Evan] Bayh, [Gen. Wesley] Clark and [Ohio Gov. Ted] Strickland were not very popular in this poll. After the nomination is settled, there really needs to be something done about party unity, that's for sure."
Rio Rancho-based blogger and Daily Kos contributor Matthew Reichbach (nmfbihop.com) supported Richardson in the poll. He points out that Richardson had a mixed reception in the blogosphere.
"At first they really loved him, before they got to know him," Reichbach says. "I think the same reasons they loved him at first are why they like him now…They feel after eight years of Bush they need somebody in that administration who has a lot of foreign policy experience."
Following Richardson's win, Stromann launched a bonus poll about the beard Richardson grew after dropping out of the race. As of April 14, 65 percent of 1,200 votes were pro-beard.
"The Governor appreciates the input, however negotiations regarding the beard are at a sensitive stage and it would be inappropriate to comment," Oliver says via e-mail.
But Reichbach says that Richardson has kept an ear to the blogosphere.
"Even as governor, when he really didn't need any help to win re-election, he still reached out to the local blogs," he says. "I think he does understand the blogs matter, that we matter."