After nearly a monthlong online voting process, popular tech blog TechCrunch has endorsed Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain as its picks for the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.
"The blog's editors, readership and affiliates have concluded that in an era of great partisanship Sens. Obama and McCain best reflect the policies, core values and global vision to advocate for technology-based businesses, both large and small, should either candidate be elected president of the United States," the blog's founder and co-editor Michael Arrington said in a statement.
In December, TechCrunch, which is read by more than 400,000 people monthly according to Nielsen/NetRatings, allowed readers to vote on its site for a Republican and a Democratic presidential candidate based on the candidate's stance on issues such as net neutrality and ID theft.
The TechCrunch primary poll captured 15,734 votes. Obama received 61 percent of the votes, while former Sen. John Edwards received 26 percent. Sen. Hillary Clinton received 6 percent. Although Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, received 74 percent of votes, TechCrunch endorsed McCain, who received 16 percent of the votes.
"What really surprised me is how much my readers wanted to see this information. Candidates are seeing that it's not only important to jump on Facebook and YouTube … but it's also important to outline their policies on some of these issues," Arrington told ABCNEWS.com in December. "We're not talking about issues that have a huge moral [impact], but they're issues that are really hard to understand."
At primaries.techcrunch.com, readers could vote for a candidate and read more information on his or her positions on issues including technology education, immigration and H1B visas, the wireless spectrum, intellectual property and renewable energy, among others.
The idea for reader-endorsed candidates began after users responded strongly to the site's podcasts with candidates this fall, Arrington said. In the segments, candidates discussed — openly, for the most part, according to Arrington — their stance on various tech issues.
"The idea just sort of evolved. We reached out to really all of the candidates to do podcasts with them," Arrington said. "It became pretty clear a lot of these issues were pretty important to our readers."
The site featured interviews with several current and past candidates including former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, Sens. McCain, R-Ariz., Mike Gravel, D-Alaska, and Obama, D-Ill., as well as Edwards of North Carolina.
Arrington said he was surprised that the candidates granted the site such broad access.
"To some extent we've forced the candidates to think hard about these issues when they otherwise might not have," he said. "They went to a lot of trouble to make sure they had a real position on net neutrality."
Arrington attributed that access both to candidates' heightened awareness of social networking tools and online video as well as to the site's apolitical stance.
"We just talk about technology," he said.
Candidates with libertarian leanings, like Gravel and Paul were undeniably Silicon Valley favorites. Paul has an extraordinarily active fan base on the Web, which he demonstrated during a record-breaking fundraising period of about $6 million in 24 hours.
Gravel, however, only received 7 percent of the votes in the TechCrunch poll.
Despite the blog's strong readership, endorsements rarely have a huge impact on elections, according to Rick Klein, ABC News' senior political reporter.
"Media endorsements are rarely game-changers — few viewers or readers blindly follow their favorite media outlets or commentators," Klein said. "But they can be key in reinforcing certain themes candidates talk about, and in providing stamps of approval that candidates can tout on the trail."
Even so, for media outlets with a smaller, more niche audience — like TechCrunch — the endorsement may have more impact than a publication with a larger, but more disparate, audience.
"The more specialized the audience, generally, the more the sway [an endorsement has]," Klein said. "Dedicated viewers or users, who have gone out of their way to find a particular blog or commentator, are probably more likely to follow the lead of that outlet."