For all the reporters, bloggers, donors, fundraisers, and vice presidential short-listers — pay attention. There seems to be a way to discern who the VP pick will be, even before the official announcement, and we’re not talking about Mitt Romney’s new app that will announce the choice to his followers before he goes public with the news. Even before that app message is sent, there might be a way to discover which of the potential Republican running mates will actually get on the ticket.
Micah L. Sifry at TechPresident tossed out the idea that a good place to watch for the next VP could be at Wikipedia where a number of increased edits could be a giveaway as to who gets chosen. The “democratic” encyclopedia showed a spike in updates and revisions to Sarah Palin’s entry the day before it was announced she would be Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008. In fact, Sifry sourced a 2008 Washington Post article noting that there were 68 in all, far more than were posted to other vice presidential contenders like Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Mitt Romney. Only Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty came close with 54 updates the day before the announcement. But in the week prior to the announcement, Palin saw her Wikipedia entry altered 54 times to Pawlenty’s 12.
It was pointed out by Terry Gudaitis of Cyveillance, in speaking with the Washington Post, that Joe Biden’s Wikipedia page also saw a marked increase just before Sen. Barack Obama announced he would be on the Democratic Party ticket as the vice presidential nominee.
It was also suggested that Palin’s Wikipedia entry may have been more sparse on details and her consideration as vice president warranted the changes.
Gudaitis said that another source for advance information could be in the monitoring of airlines and private aviation companies, because that was CNN’s tip-off that Palin would be McCain’s pick. She was booked on a flight to Dayton, Ohio, the day that Sen. McCain said he would announce his choice.
ABC News followed this line of reasoning, suggesting that keeping tabs on aviation websites could present advance information as well, noting that on June 5, 2004, an airplane mechanic named Bryan Smith blogged on the USAviation website about Sen. John Kerry’s 757 being painted with logos that included former Sen. John Edwards’ name.
Sifry also posted a trio of graphs indicating Wikipedia traffic and edits in the recent past, the results showing several contenders in the various graphs. However there are still a few weeks before the Republican National Convention, where the official nomination will take place. Where and when Mitt Romney chooses to announce his VP pick, however, may be only days away. If so, according to Sifry’s graphs, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan are in a dead-heat race of edits (8, 9, and 10, respectively, noticeably far less than Palin and Pawlenty in 2008). Ohio Senator Rob Portman, an early favorite of Republicans and of the media, has five less than Ryan.
But that could all change in a week’s time. Or not. Given that strategists possibly know about the Wikipedia editing tip-off, alterations might be purposely kept at a minimum. But there is little that can be done should someone discover the choice ahead of time and post to Twitter or a blog the information about the VP choice.
Still, when all is said and done, advance knowledge of the VP pick will most likely come through one or more of the major news networks, like the aforementioned CNN. So if you’re anxious to know Mitt Romney’s choice ahead of time — and barring that he just suddenly announces it via the new app one day — try tuning in to CNN, Fox News Channel, or MSNBC.