Chicago Sun-Times
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Ne Jersey Gov. Chris Christie presides over a state that has suffered the bulk of the damage and destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy. The Jersey shore alone has accounted for scores of dead, millions of dollars in damage and miles of homes razed.

While federal relief pours in and private donations and efforts mount, Christie has reached out to a higher authority: Justin Bieber. He tweeted to his nearly 280,000 followers that he needs Bieber, of whom Christie's kids are "huge fans, to push people to the help line to get donations rolling for relief:

The Biebs, just shy of 30 million followers on Twitter, is working the donation angle. But no word from him yet on whether he'll join forces with Gov. Christie. It would certainly be bigger news that some simple words of appreciation for President Obama.

UPDATE: Bieber to the rescue. The Canadian Prince of All Media retweeted Christie's plea, garnering at least 1,441 retweets and 734 favorites. It will be interesting to see if that leads to an outpouring of assistance though.

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FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics are two sites that have garnered acclaim and traffic during the election season as voters try to get a leg up of the latest prognostications. While we can't know exactly how the election will turn out, these sites have forecasting down to a science. But there's another website that could give us a peek into who will win this year's hotly contested presidential election: Google. The megabeheamoth search engine is actually a source of tremendous - and entertaining - data and some it of can actually correlate with election outcomes as Seth Stephens-Davidowitz explored at the New York Times.

While so much of the information gleaned from the search data is either ridiculous - the popularity of "Paul Ryan shirtless" - or superfluous - how the number of searches of a candidate in a region corresponds to their popularity in said area - there are some useful tidbits to be pulled for the campaigns, particularly in terms of voter turn-out. Says Stephens-Davidowitz:

If search rates for voting information were higher in the first half of October 2008 than in the first half of October 2004, voting rates tended to be higher in 2008 than in 2004. It's true for midterm elections, too. If search rates for voting information were higher in the first half of October 2010 than in the first half of October 2006, voting rates tended to be higher in 2010 than in 2006.

This predictive power was significantly stronger than that of other variables we might use to predict area-level turnout, like changes in registration rates or movement in early voting.


Of course, there's plenty of garbage to sift through as well, as Stephens-Davidowitz notes, including searches about Romney and Mormon underwear as well as Obama and racist epithets. Still, once you look past the noise, there may just be some patterns worth teasing out, adding to the stacks of numbers already being crunched for November 6.

On Wednesday, President Obama sat down for a virtual town hall on Reddit, the social media news and sharing site.

In his r/IAmA chat, he took on a variety of questions, from money in politics, to his toughest decisions to net freedom concerns.

Here's a sample of the fare:

[-]gobearss 1337 points 18 hours ago

ow do you balance family life and hobbies with, well, being the POTUS?

[-]PresidentObamaObama[S] 2137 points 17 hours ago

t's hard - truthfully the main thing other than work is just making sure that I'm spending enough time with michelle and the girls. The big advantage I have is that I live above the store - so I have no commute! So we make sure that when I'm in DC I never miss dinner with them at 6:30 pm - even if I have to go back down to the Oval for work later in the evening. I do work out every morning as well, and try to get a basketball or golf game in on the weekends just to get out of the bubble. Speaking of balance, though, I need to get going so I'm back in DC in time for dinner. But I want to thank everybody at reddit for participating - this is an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run. AND REMEMBER TO VOTE IN NOVEMBER - if you need to know how to register, go to Gottaregister.com. By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole reddit experience - NOT BAD!

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That "NOT BAD" signoff, by the way, is a sly reference to the Obama "Rage Face" meme that has been popular with Redditors. The one pictured was posted by Redditor thrsdy.

The Washington Post has a breakdown on how the traffic for the Q&A was - enough to seize up the site at one point:

  • -- 3.8 million page views on the first page of the Obama Q&A
  • -- 2.6 million unique page views on the first page (and still going)
  • -- Over 22,000 comments. To be more exact, 23,082 as of 11:25 a.m., Eastern Thursday.
Obama has used YouTube and Google+ in the past to take questions as well.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney's camp will be taking to Twitter Thursday when he makes his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for president. It's not unusual that politicians hit the Twittersphere anymore, but the way Romney's campaign is doing it is new - via a sponsored, or purchased, trending topic hashtag.

Twitter confirmed to The Verge that this is the first time a candidate has bought a trend.

The Sun-Times has five reporters covering the national, state and local stories in Tampa at the Republican National Convention this week.

Each day we'll Storify their tweets, images, video and more as they report the event.

You can follow them individually on Twitter as well:

The Sun-Times has five reporters covering the national, state and local stories in Tampa at the Republican National Convention this week.

Each day we'll Storify their tweets, images, video and more as they report the event. Here's a look at the calm before the storms - the convention and Tropical Storm Isaac - heading into Monday's abbreviated start.

You can follow them individually on Twitter as well: