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SPA Class Blog Wins “Pollie,” the Oscar of Political Ads

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Homework rarely wins awards, but then again, adjunct professor and SPA alumnus Christopher Malagisi’s course on “Campaigns & Political Activism” isn’t your typical class. The assignment for the Fall 2009 class: create an activist blog supporting one of the six Virginia statewide candidates.

The class divided into six groups, each supporting the candidate of their choice. Students had to not only show their political acumen by substantively reporting on campaign news, but also their web savvy, by using linking strategies like trackbacks to promote their blogs and build an online following.

One group submitted its blog supporting gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, entitled Painting Richmond Red, for a prestigious Pollie award. Known as the "Oscars of Political Advertising,” the Pollies are sponsored by the American Association of Political Consultants and judged by a panel representing the nation’s top campaign experts.

A double victory: the group won in the student category for “Best Use of Social Networking” and McDonnell won the Governor’s race. The students involved included undergraduate political science majors Michael Stubel, Natalie Foglia, and Jonathan Hultine Danielle Gaquin, an MPA candidate.

“A few of the campaigns, including McDonnell’s, picked up on the students’ blogs and wrote to thank them,” said Malagisi. “All the groups did an incredible job, but it’s nice that one got recognized.”