One tactic that earned endorsements from Web watchers: McCain's crew posted his picks for the NCAA men's basketball tournament and let supporters compete against him in an online pool. MySpace.com joined the fray itself this week, offering impact.myspace.com, which links all the major candidates' MySpace sites, echoing YouTube.com's You Choose '08 (www.youtube.com/youchoose) linking to posted videos of the candidates.
But the effect remains unclear. Obama leads the pack in MySpace "friends" -- people with their own pages who have linked to Obama's page -- with about 81,000 by Sunday evening, a minuscule presence compared with the 122 million votes cast in the last presidential election.
And Web observers say that though the campaigns have sought to build on the 2004 Dean and Bush campaigns' groundbreaking tactics in networking with supporters, raising cash and spawning local letters to the editor, none has exploited more than a small fraction of the Web's potential.
"There's not a doubt that they can use it smartly, but I don't think any of them are using it very well," said David L. Sifry, founder of Technorati, which monitors live Web traffic. "Some of them are trying to jump on top of the MySpace bandwagon or jump on the social networking phenomenon.... But I don't think any of them are coming up with that breakthrough idea that gets young people engaged."