Ex-presidential hopeful John Kerry has decided one “also ran” is enough on his resume when it comes to presidential elections, at least for 2008. That’s got to be sad news for bloggers, Web crawlers and Internet surfers. He was by far the most liked or disliked candidate around, if Google search results have any legitimacy.

A search for “John Kerry” “presidential campaign” found 940,000 possible matches. This verifies at least with one search engine that his name recognition on the Web (at 7:32 p.m. Wednesday) was the highest of all the major 28 candidates.

By choice, his name is now officially stricken and will not appear on the 2008 ballot. Kerry said he plans instead to run for a fifth Senate term in Massachusetts where voters first elected him in 1984.

This reduces the collection of serious Democrat candidates to an even dozen according to the “Iowa Presidential Watch 2008” Web site (www.iowapresidentialwatch.com).

It’s safe to say, however, the ongoing open call for presidential candidates has never seen such interest and will no doubt generate even more.

On the Republican side, the Presidential Watch also lists 12 serious Republican candidates and “three frequently mentioned despite saying they are not running” candidates. Those “are not running” candidates include Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

President George W. Bush’s low poll ratings could be fueling the hopes of many hopefuls. The unpopular War in Iraq will no doubt continue playing a role. But online information-spreading opportunities can’t be overlooked when trying to understand the escalating advance hype.

For instance, Google (that’s a verb) Democrat Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign notes on the Web, and you’ll get 565,000 results. Granted she was married to Bill and he ran for president twice and won. Compare Hillary’s name recognition on the Web with newcomer Barack Obama who already has 322,000 Google results. Then note that the Republican’s highest Google result-getter is John McCain at 468,000.

It’s too early to say what these numbers mean in the world of campaign strategy. What it does say is this: Whether playing a role in promoting candidates, demeaning candidates or simply acting as a pseudo-poll for popularity and name recognition, the symbiotic relationship between the Web and politics is here to stay.

The Web emerged as a major medium during the 2004 elections. Blogs to fundraising venues, candidate outings to campaign promotions provided a mixture of the sanctioned and the nonsanctioned — the good, the bad and the ugly — on candidates of any note. That should be expected to increase exponentially this campaign season.

Assessing a candidate’s viability by Web search results is not easy or at this time even scientific. It does, however, attest to name recognition. And, name recognition is a tried and true campaign necessity — perhaps more than ever.