Forrester Names Gore Top Internet Candidate

As 16 U.S. states prepare to cast presidential primary votes in what has become known as “Super Tuesday,” Internet research firm Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) has declared Vice-President and Democratic front-runner Al Gore the most Internet-friendly candidate in the 2000 presidential race.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Forrester said Monday that Gore finished ahead of the other three leading presidential candidates in a survey of technology firms, public policy groups, political Web sites and the technology advisors of the candidates.

The company said it graded the four candidates on three criteria: The completeness of their campaigns based on Internet issues, their technology track record and their technology advisors.

Bradley Brings Up Rear

Gore scored well for his involvement in technology policy, his choice of technology advisors and his track record. However, the Vice President did not do well on several looming policy issues, the firm said.

Arizona Senator John McCain, who is mounting an insurgent campaign against Republican front-runner George W. Bush, placed second in the survey. McCain’s position as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee gave him clout, as did his track record as a man who has taken “clear and prominent stands” on such hot-button Internet issues as taxation and regulation.

Bush’ s record campaign windfall did not translate into success in Forrester’s survey, which ranked him third. According to Forrester, Bush’s standing as governor of Texas did not allow him to get involved in technology policymaking at the national level, and his reticence on e-commerce related issues did not serve him well.

Former NBA star and New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley finished last in the survey. Despite taking clear positions on the “digital divide,” education, free speech and taxation, Forrester said, Bradley has generally steered clear of technology issues and did not make his list of technology advisors publicly available.

High Stakes

Forrester’s report underscores the importance of the Internet to the political landscape in 2000, while reminding voters that the next president could have a significant hand in shaping the industry’s future.

The company said that government intervention is inevitable, as “the stakes have become too high to leave Internet decisions outside the democratic process.” It believes that the government will need to intervene to settle the high-profile issues of taxation and privacy, as well as other vexing issues like the digital divide and free speech.

“Although the Internet has become a staple of modern life, businesses and consumers will look to government to guarantee a secure online experience,” said John McCarthy, the company’s group director of the company’s Internet Policy & Regulation Research.

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