The Google bomb is dead. Love live the Google bomb.

As already widely noted, Google has changed their PageRank algorithm to counteract the practice of coordinated link bombing. This should effectively put an end to attempts, such as those organized at MyDD, to elevate the the ranking of news stories that cover controversies surrounding Republican opponents.No tears shed here. Gaming search results for tiny tactical advantages in the midst of large-scale political races is not my thing.

But political candidates, campaign staff, and political bloggers alike should not lose sight of the real and ongoing battlefield of legitimate search engine optimization, especially in local and regional races. After all, a blog typically covers recurring themes and topics. In that respect, every blog is its own link bomb.

In the extended entry, I'll show some examples from my own experience as a local/regional blogger in Suburban Philadelphia (Delaware County) and my blog, Daddy Democrat, from which this is an adapted/x-posted entry.

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Philadelphia Machine Circles The Wagons Around The Drain

Back on Wednesday, a poll came out on the Philadelphia mayoral election (PDF) showing multi-millionaire Tom Knox surging into a clear second place behind Representative Chaka Fattah, and even within the margin of error. Knox's rise has been fueled almost entirely though a series of expensive, self-financed television ad buys over the last two months. This development is a huge shock to pretty much everyone involved in Philadelphia politics. As pretty much a complete outsider to the political scene here, no one had expected Knox to be a significant factor in this election. Six months ago, he was registering only 1% support, and was in a distant seventh place. Considering his current rate of increase and his seemingly unlimited ability to self-finance, it may not be long before he becomes the frontrunner in the campaign.

Also on Wednesday, almost immediately after the poll showing Knox's rise was released, the Philadelphia City Council decided to respond to Knox's surge by introducing a bill repealing their recently installed campaign finance law that limited campaign contributions. Seriously--the plan to repeal their own recently imposed campaign donation limits was hatched the same day the poll came out. At 4 p.m. on Wednesday, about six hours after the poll was released, Young Philly Politics reported the following:
In response to the success that Tom Knox is having with spending his bags of money, I heard through the grape-vine that certain City Council members are going to introduce a bill to suspend or repeal the current contribution limits.
Now, Young Philly Politics is reporting that by mid-afternoon today, the bill to repeal the new campaign finance law had enough co-sponsors to reach a majority. So, in the span of less than two days, after the release of a single poll showing a rich outsider becoming a serious contender, the city went from challenging a court's ruling that the campaign finance law was unconstitutional, to creating legislation that would allow them to repeal the law themselves. Nice.

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Feudalism on the Schuylkill

In Philadelphia, there is going to be a special "election" for Michael Nutter's vacated City Council seat this fall (Nutter is running for Mayor). I put "election" in quotes, because if you are not from Philadelphia, you are probably unaware that in this case, "election" actually means 66 ward leaders will determine who fills the seat. Form Young Philly Politics:For those who do not know, if a special election is called, the Democratic Ward Leaders makes an "endorsement." I keep putting endorsement inside of quotes, because it is a misnomer. Their "endorsement" means that their candidate of choice goes on to the ballot as the Democrat. Which means, in all of the special elections, the candidate who will be elected who will be the machine backed, insider, who will promptly try and entrench themselves with the power of incumbency. This is fundamentally an undemocratic process, and will lead to City Council potentially getting worse in 2007, not better. Instead of allowing members of the Democratic Party in Nutter's district determine who will represent them in City Council, the Ward Leaders get to decide. Granted, one of those leaders will be our new leader in Ward 27, Carol Jenkins, after we spent a year in an agonizing process to recall our previous Ward leader who was making endorsements without consulting the ward, not showing up for meetings, and not distributing election day material. However, I don't care if the people voting to replace Butter were Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Mother Teresa. The point isn't whether the people voting to make the replacement are good people or not. The point is that in a democracy, all of the voters should have a chance to vote for who represents them. That is not the case in Philadelphia. Instead, an old system of patronage, which is quite akin to a feudal system of loyalty, determines who becomes the next "representative" of an area of the city rather than the voters.

Now, tell me if you see anything wrong in these two quotes from an article on the woman the Ward Leaders are certain to chose, Carol Campbell:

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Political Preseason Starts This Week

Alert!  Preseason Starts this week!

No, not just Steelers and Eagles preseason football; we're talking about political preseason.  We just finished training camps in Pittsburgh and the Lehigh Valley in July and now it is time to put our skills to the test.  We have teams organizing throughout the progressive movement and they are ready to Score a Touchdown!  

Our Conservative opponents have fumbled the ball on minimum wage in Washington.  At the same time they voted to give low wage workers a raise of just $1,200 a year, they voted to give Paris Hilton a massive estate tax cut of $1.4 million.  That's not hot.  

We need you to get in the game!  Our opponents are pushing an agenda that is far too extreme for America.  Together, we have the talent, but in order to change the debate, we need you.  Many exciting, progressive events are coming up in your area!  These events are extremely important in terms of voter education and focusing on issues that will affect the future of all Pennsylvanians.  The need to get involved is urgent - don't wait another minute!

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Philly corruption: no Fumo without fire?

The last time we were in this neck of the woods, it was Anne Dicker running (unsuccesfully, as it turned out) for the Dem nom as State Rep in the 175th.

The issue was casinos, the effect on that part of Philly, the sleazy, underhand and (possibly) corrupt way the whole business was handled.

(All news to me, but evidently an important story brewing.)

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