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Top of the Ticket, the start of Year Two

June 11, 2008 | 11:44 am

On this, the first anniversary of our Top of the Ticket blog, we are reminded of the mercurial, unpredictable nature of U.S. politics -- part of what makes what we do so fascinating.The Rev Al Sharpton celebrates the first birthday of The Ticket

Our goal -- one of us on the East Coast and the other on the far more important or at least less humid West Coast -- was to write about Campaign '08 virtually around the clock.

Our second-ever posting, 12 months ago today, previewed an upcoming L.A. Times/Bloomberg Poll; later in the day, we detailed the results of the nationwide survey. The findings were in line with other polls of the time.

In the Republican presidential race, which then seemed the most likely to last deep into the primary season, Rudy Giuliani was perched in first place. His lead wasn't overwhelming, but it was strong enough that he appeared certain to remain a major contender.

His liberal record on social issues loomed as an obvious liability within his party, but his tough-on-terrorism message was attracting substantial support from moderates and GOP-leaning independents.

Gee, who are these people passing on the stage--Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?

His major headache among rivals last June was an as-yet-undeclared candidate who was riding a wave as the great conservative hope -- Fred Thompson. He ran a strong second in the poll.

Lagging far behind were John McCain and Mitt Romney, each barely with double-digit support. In our preview posting, we were especially scornful of McCain, noting sarcastically (and foolishly, as it turned out) that in the poll, he found himself "in heated competition with the 'Don't Know' category."

Meriting no mention from us was Mike Huckabee, one of several back-of-the-pack candidates barely earning any support across the country.

The Democratic race, at that point, seemed so much more cut-and-dried.

Hillary Clinton was the clear front-runner; Barack Obama was just as clearly ...

... in second place. Their respective strength had little changed since a similar poll two months earlier and, it was widely assumed, little change was likely once voting actually started months later.

Running third was Al Gore, included in the poll on the off-chance that late in the game he might decide to come off the bench and make another try for the office that so barely eluded him in 2000. (Speaking of the Nobel Prize winner, exactly when will he officially embrace Obama as his party's choice this year?)

Bill and Ceena mug for her cellphone in Pennsylvania

Our posting on the precise poll numbers did provide one nugget worth recollecting. The survey showed, we noted, that "younger voters especially like Obama and he runs roughly even with Clinton among more affluent and educated voters."

Ultimately, of course, he dominated Clinton among these two subgroups.

The twists and turns in both the Democratic and GOP campaigns over the last year enthralled us; the response to our blog, meanwhile, heartened us.

In our very first item, Paris Hilton Not Here, we said: "Today is Day One of a new conversation on LATimes.com." We're delighted that more than 46,000 times our readers have felt compelled to leave a comment on The Ticket, some of them friendly. We responded to many and the dialogue continues, even at the end of this item.

We're also pleased that nearly 12 million times in these last 12 months, readers have clicked on our pages. We've published nearly 2,300 items -- and they're all still archived on the right of this page by subject and month. (Yes, Rep. Ron Paul has his own subject category.)

Several thousand of you have subscribed (yes, of course it's free) to The Ticket's nightly politics newsletter by registering here and selecting the Campaign '08 newsletter.

Sen. John McCain and his wife Cindy

And many others have subscribed to The Ticket's RSS feeds by going to this page, scrolling down about halfway and clicking on Top of the Ticket under Campaign '08.

Several hundred of you have also subscribed to The Ticket on Twitter by going here.

When we started this endeavor, The Ticket was merely one of some 100+ million blogs on the planet. Today, The Ticket is ranked in the Top 150 of the world's blogs. We thank you for putting us there.

When we started on June 11, 2007, we were both blogging rookies, new to this wondrous Web world. We still are. And we intend to stay that way, full of the curiosity and energy that brought us both to this business some years ago and to politics specifically, where the frictions, dreams and unpredictable dramas of democracy play themselves out.

This has been an extraordinary year politically, full of the kind of history that will be studied and recalled for a very long time.

And guess what? We're not quite halfway from Iowa to Election Day.

So there's plenty more to come. We'll be here, writing away. We hope you'll join us and tell your friends about us. And we'll have an even better Year Two of The Ticket. Thanks for coming along.

-- Don Frederick and Andrew Malcolm

Andrew Malcolm of Top of the Ticket

Don Frederick of Top of the Ticket

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