“There is no doubt that, increasingly, a perception exists that blogs are heavily involved in the political sphere, as participants in agenda setting, in launching critiques of public policies, in interfacing with election campaigns, in influencing political debate and events and in sparking activism” (Bahnisch in Bruns and Jacobs 2003, p. 139).
Whilst this paper will focus mainly on the use and impact of what here is defined as candidate blogs or party blogs, it is essential that we also know of the existence and role of the other types of campaign blogs as well. Supporter blogs and political commentator blogs serve as important contributors, resources and springboards for official campaign blogs, and not surprisingly, many of the bloggers that today are engaged by official campaigns have a background from either a supporter blog or a political commentary blog.
There are two ways of addressing the impact of campaign blogs on political campaigns; one is to examine how the nature of blogs and the structures within the blogosphere potentially present an opportunity for politicians to influence voter decisions; another is to locate specific circumstances where blogs helped a campaign swing voters and produce an upset election outcome. This chapter will analyse how scholars to date have addressed these approaches.
The chapter will be divided into four sections; the first reviewing previous attempts to measure how web based campaigns have affected voting behaviour; the second examining how previous literature perceives the potential impact of blogs on the election process; the third examining how campaigns have utilized the medium as an electioneering tool to date; and the fourth discussing if, and how, the uses of blogs have impacted the direction of a campaign or the outcome of an election.