From NBC's Carrie Dann
In the political message ecosystem, chief campaign communicators repeatedly pledge to "cut through the clutter" with their latest pitch to voters. Often, their audience has already beat them to it, seeking the truths (or untruths) that Yahoo and Google can reveal.
An analysis of search term data compiled for NBC News by the online research company Hitwise shows that people in the digital universe are desperately curious about this year's presidential and vice presidential contenders. What they're looking for says a lot about how the campaigns are — and are not — making their messages stick.
To take one example: Democrats spent the week after the GOP convention desperately trying to debunk Sarah Palin's claim that she said "thanks, but no thanks" to Alaska's famed Bridge to Nowhere. Curious truth-seekers used the web to learn more. About one in every five hundred web searches containing the phrase "Sarah Palin" during that week inquired about the Alaska governor's support for the pork project, making "Sarah Palin Bridge to Nowhere" the 72nd most frequent search term on her list. But ranking far above the earmark investigation in popularity (among the 10 million internet users in Hitwise's sample) were "Sarah Palin legs" (No. 16), "Sarah Palin Vogue" (No. 18), and "Sarah Palin sexy photos" (No. 49).
Read more here about everything web users really want to know about the candidates but were afraid to ask -- anyone except the Internet, anyway.