The Second Great Age of political blogging is upon us. For those who remember the 2004 race, when blogging was just hitting its stride, you might remember that politicos were the only bloggers acknowledged by anyone in the media. It’s still that way to a large degree, but only one blog, Huffington Post remains in the top 10 blogs in existence, a range that is dominated by tech blogs. Of the Technorati Top 100, only 16 could be deemed “political” blogs, though certainly TreeHugger straddles the political/business fence.
However, the intense Democratic primary season, and the notion that a McCain presidency would signal a continuation of unpopular precedents set by the current administration, has catapulted political blogging back into style.
The Democrats are leveraging the widest field of blogger press to date at the DNC including Blue Hampshire, Blue Indiana and Blue Jersey… I think we need to work with the Democratic blogs on unique branding opportunities.
The GOP has not announced their credentialed bloggers yet, but the RNC is two weeks after the Democrats hold their convention so I’d expect the credentialed bloggers list to be somewhat similar in length.
Has Political Blogging Changed?
I asked my friend, James Joyner from Outside the Beltway, a right-of-center blog, what he felt had changed about political blogging since 2004. You know, if you aren’t getting better, you’re standing still, right? He decided to write an entire post on it, and I encourage everyone to read it. Something he does offer though, is:
Blogging Activism In early 2003, most of the top tier blogs were right-of-center opinion and observation blogs. Within a year, that had changed radically. Through a combination of the Left forming communities much earlier and with much more success than the Right and the fact that Republicans controlled the White House and Congress and thus energized an angry opposition, sites supporting Democrats “” and, mostly, more staunchly “œprogressive” candidates “” began to dominate the political blogosphere.
Blogs, especially on the Left, started raising money “” serious money “” for political candidates and seeing themselves as major players in the process. An increasing number of the most popular blogs saw themselves as leaders in a Movement rather than as mere commentators on public affairs.
Polarization of the Blogosphere While there are more thoughtful, moderate tone blogs now than ever, the trend has been toward harsh polemics. Many of the top political bloggers have come on to the scene since I started and almost all who have risen to the top have been more Ann Coulter or Michael Moore than George Will or David Broder.
Karoli from Drums ‘n Whistles, a leftist blogger and another friend of mine, agrees with James largely on the activism front:
I’d say the biggest change since 2004 has been the number of strong, allied voices blogging not only for candidates, but causes. What is more striking, though, is how social media tools (which include blogs but also social networking sites) have given people their own virtual town square in which to gather, organize, and coalesce around a cause or a candidate.
She goes on to say, when asked for specifics on the “strong, allied voices” bit:
The one that immediately jumps to mind is ActBlue.com which is primarily a fundraising site to raise money to promote progressive candidates in all 50 states. While it’s clearly aligned with the Democratic party, the goal is not just to help fund or rubber stamp candidates, but to promote those candidates supporting platforms which include causes in alignment with their core progressive values (like green initiatives, for example). There are others, and there are weaknesses in ActBlue’s model, but it’s still a very young site with lots of growing to do.
The other day, my new friends over at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation asked for my help with a petition that needed 1000 signatures by the end of the next day. They were at 900 and the petition had been online for a week and a half. When I sent a message out to people who follow me, we slammed the petition and doubled the signees in less than 36 hours. I bring that up to point out that activism is strong, even outside of the political sphere, but certainly activism is most prevalent within the political space.
Of note, also, is the sense that Technorati, as an example, is dominated by tech and business blogs. I won’t argue that except to note that in 2004, it was the political blogs that peppered the Technorati landscape. When comparing the left’s biggest blog (Added: I don’t consider Huffington Post a blog, per se, but if it is then Kos is the #2 largest leftist blog), Daily Kos(#12 on Technorati Top 100) against tech blogs like TechCrunch(#2) and Ars Technica(#7) on Compete, we get a reflection of what is being said by other metrics:
Largely, with the Obama-McCain race firmly underway, it makes sense that there would be a return to political blogging as a dominant force on the playing field. Everyone’s getting involved and more people are getting their news and information on the web today over 2004. However, I’d put out the precaution that every writer has a bias. Some do a better job hiding it than others. I’d encourage avid reading on both sides of the political divide and an objective and conscious effort to avoid vitriolic hate. A unified country does not mean a unified party.
For my part, I’m leaning toward voting Obama and that lean became even more accentuated with the revelation of McCain’s wiretap policy, a topic I called for a Bush impeachment on and, incidentally, something that McCain’s flip-flopping on – apparently. That said, Obama scares me as well and I am just going to sit back and watch the fun for the next few months. The political bloggers are going to have a hey day! :)