May 5th, 2007 by alex
In the mainstream media (yes, that includes us), Democrat Mike Gravel has been portrayed as a fringe candidate, and a slightly crazy one at that, especially after his headline-grabbing performance at last week’s debate in South Carolina.

But on the Internet, Gravel is a sensation — a refreshing face amid a sea of cookie-cutter candidates seen as typical politicians. On, where users post links to articles and then let the rest of “Diggnation” determine which stories get the most exposure, the two top stories on the politics page in the past 24 hours are about Gravel. The comments below each link are overwhelmingly positive.

“I love this guy. He’s refreshing. You can’t help but get the impression that all the other candidates are grade school children compared to this guy,” said one poster identified as run4ny.

In another popular corner of the Internet,, one commenter said, “This guy has GOT to stick around. People would be LUCKY to have the opportunity to vote for a guy who displays this kind of honesty and courage.”

In a posting on its site, the Gravel campaign says this wellspring of online support is responsible for pressuring CNN to invite Gravel to participate in an upcoming debate in New Hampshire. “This invitation is a direct result of the dedication and work of those of you who have stood up for this campaign in the last 72 hours,” press secretary Shawn Alexander Colvin wrote.

This doesn’t mean Gravel is going to move up in the polls. Many Internet sites are frequented by people with an anti-establishment, libertarian streak — the exact kind of people that are drawn to candidates like Gravel and Republican Ron Paul — but they don’t make up a large chunk of the population.

However, it does look like Gravel got more than fleeting fame out of his debate appearance: He also got a base. — David Miller