Carter’s post about the distractions a campaign faces made me think. The fact is that often the campaign’s packaged messages via ads, speeches and events are almost subliminal compared to the high-profile distractions that grab people’s attention.

Today, at 1:15 p.m., the top three most popular stories on Google for each candidate did not necessarily reflect what the campaigns would like you to focus on as their public message. For Mitt Romney, the top three were an article accusing him of not standing up to his own party and lacking strength of character, and two articles related to his comments on the auto bailout issue. The top three for President Obama were an article on inmate Keith Judd, who took 41 percent of the vote in the West Virginia primary against Obama, and two articles on Obama’s “evolution” on gay marriage and why he should back marriage equality

Mitt Romney would prefer that voters focus on the weak April jobs report, how President Obama’s energy policies have hurt the middle class and, in particular, how Michigan has suffered until Obama’s policies.  Obama wants to draw your attention to the cool “Obamagear” you can purchase from his campaign Web site, women’s issues and his great campaign organization machine in Ohio. 

The differences in the official vs. the popular-driven messages speaks to the reality of the presidential campaigns in the early stages, where the media is not interested in the spoon-feeding from the campaigns and the daily duel that will take place in the fall.  Instead, it’s the distractions, and how the campaigns handle them, that will shape and inform voters’ views about the candidates for the next few months.