1.1 The purpose and importance of the study
Due to the rapidly changing landscape of online communication and the fact that the phenomenon of blogging is relatively novel, there exists little academic research to date on political blogs and the politics of blogging (Bahnisch in Bruns & Jacobs 2006, p. 139, Lawson-Borders & Kirk 2005, p. 551). Bahnisch (in Bruns & Jacobs 2006, p. 146) argues that “further research is urgently needed, particularly in mapping the reach and influence of blogs, and also in a more rigorous and empirically informed analysis of conversations and power relations internal to the blogosphere and their relationship to their environing contexts”. The purpose of this study is therefore to increase our understanding of the potential influence and role blogs can play in future election campaigns especially when it comes to affecting voting behaviour.
By comparing studies of political parties’ and candidates’ use of blogs in election campaigns from 2004 to 2007, the paper aims to locate different aspects of blogging that have changed the direction of an election campaign and/or helped a campaign produce an upset election outcome. Since research on the topic to date is limited, this study will produce new data and information never before considered. Reflections and thoughts of leading bloggers on their role in the direction of a campaign will supplement the data that already exist on the topic and hopefully bring to light new dimensions not yet considered. The paper will argue that there is enough evidence to support a hypothesis claiming that blogs can have an impact on political campaigns; however, current literature has not yet managed to develop proper ways to measure and identify how electioneering via blogs affect voting decisions.