“[…] David Winston, Republican pollster, once said […] there will come a time when we no longer talk about online strategies and offline strategies, but rather strategies with online and offline components. I suggest that that day has arrived, maybe not universally, but certainly noticeably” (Rosenblatt in Personal Democracy Forum 8 November 2006).
This study developed the following three interrelated research questions in an effort to better understand how online communication tools such as blogs impact the democratic election process: How do political parties and candidates use blogs; does electioneering via blogs influence political campaigns; and how do we measure the impact blogs have on the outcome of an election?
The following chapter will analyse the subject from a new and original perspective. Employing innovative data gathering techniques, the study has located views and statements spoken by prominent bloggers, political commentators and online communication experts reflecting on what impact campaigning via blogs have on political elections. Findings to emerge from this research will now be presented and debated.
The chapter will be divided into three sections. Each section will review the most common topics discussed among the subjects of the study in the period that the research commenced, linking to the research problems defined for the study. The first section will review how bloggers, political commentators and online communication experts perceived the role of blogs during the 2006 U.S. midterm election – According to them; what impact did blogs have on the election; did we see any specific moments where blogs played a significant role in changing the direction of the campaign or the outcome of an election; and, did the candidates manage to embrace the aspects of blogs that make the medium useful and successful? The second section will look at how voters used blogs to retrieve information about candidates during the 2006 campaign and will review how people so far have interacted with websites run by the contestants in the 2008 presidential race. It will further analyse what this can tell us about the impact blogs have on people’s voting behaviour. The third, and last section, will review how bloggers themselves have attempted to measure successful electioneering via blogs, and discuss what this can teach us about what we need to test in future studies assessing the impact of blogs on political elections.