Rumours about the ‘First Blog Scandal’ of the 2008 presidential campaign are circulating.
Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon, who this week accepted a job as "blogmaster" to the presidential campaign of Democrat John Edwards (part of her job is to write the campaign blog) is the centre of attention according to the man behind the rumours, Danny Glover of the Beltway Blogroll.
This is the scandalous storyline according to Glover’s post:
Like all bloggers, Marcotte is fast and loose with her opinions, and her opinion of the infamous rape allegations against lacrosse players at Duke University didn't sit well with some folks. When Marcotte started catching flak for that opinion, she apparently deleted itand started altering other comments at Pandagon.
However, not everyone seems to agree to the fact that this is a big scale scandal. Judging by most of the post’s commentsand Micha L. Sifry’s commentover at PDF it seems like this is a case that will be forgotten by the end of the week.
More on the Marcotte-Edwards Non-Scandale - Danny Glover and Micha L. Sifry are discussing the matter over at PDF.
People-powered politics is what won this election for the Democratic Party. With this victory, power is returning to where it belongs in a democracy - with the people. Jerome Armstrong, MyDD
Chris Bowers and Jerome Armstrong discuss the role of the new people-powered progressive movement and the successful role played by the Netroots in the midterm election triumph at Mydd. They both argue that the Netroots played a crucial part in the Democrats victory (see links below), and according to the Nation they did so long before the votes were counted.
However, not everyone shares their view. One of Joe Lieberman’s campaign advisors, former Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis told The Nation that the fact that Lamont in the end lost the seat to Lieberman "proved the blogosphere is all wind and very little sail."
lost it for us if he had not shut up after two days, but to know whether blogs [had a bigger effect than] unions is like saying was Rahm Emanuel more effective than Howard Dean? I don't know."
The article in the Nation is interesting. It captures different perspectives of what impact the blogosphere had on the mid-term election and it manages to capture what many fail to; the real tactic behind the Netroot campaign:
"...regardless of the remaining results and recounts, the fact is the netroots' favorite candidates did not perform as well as the Democrats targeted by party leaders. And they were never supposed to. Many of the bloggers' picks were aggressive Democrats in long-shot districts who were neglected by the Beltway establishment."
And then further states:
"There is no doubt that bloggers leveraged money and political buzz to make races more competitive and put Republicans on the defensive, but it was simply not the decisive factor in the elections."
These are MyDD links discussing the topic:
Posts discussing the topic published on Mydd earlier in the campaign
Worth taking not of as Chris Bowers says:
"The "counter" to the netroots page, "Rightroots" lost every race they endorsed and raised funds for. No wonder they have taken the site down, and no longer list their endorsed candidates".
Update: more links discussing the topic (thanks Paull)
Earlier this year The Bivings Report released a study about the way that Senators used blogs in the 2006 Senatorial Campaign. Since the study was conducted many of the candidates running in the November election have added blogs to their websites.
Originally the study found that 23% of the candidates had blogs on their websites. After the shrinking of the candidate pool (many candidates dropped out after losing their primaries) and the addition of a few new blogs, this number has increased to 41%. 31% of incumbents now have blogs and 50% of challengers offer blogs on their sites. Further, 34% and 50% of Republicans and Democrats, respectively, are now offering blogs on their sites. In our original study, 20% and 27% of republicans and democrats had blogs.
A list of all the candidates that used blogs can be found here.
According to Erin Teeling of The Bivings Report the increase in the percentage of candidate blogs does not reflect what was her first reaction to the survey, that politicians were starting to catch on to the idea that blogging is a personal and efficient way to reach out to voters without the filter of mainstream media.
A closer look at the content and the style adapted on the blogs shows that most of the candidates are simply publishing the same top-down campaign material as they do in their websites, pamphlets and media releases.
This shows that many of the candidates still haven’t realized the potential and features that blogs offer as a communication tool.
However, there are some blogs that do stand out from the rest. Ned Lamont operates what Telleing refers to as a ‘real’ blog - and this does not come as a surprise.
Ned Lamont has done what other candidates have failed to do: Include the ‘real’ bloggers, the netroots; the people that understand and know how the blogosphere works.
Ned Lamont has earlier received help from A-list left bloggers like Matt Stoller of Mydd and Stirling Newberry from The Agonist and TPM Café. His current blog is run by netroot experts Aldon Hynes, Charles Monaco, David Sirota and Tim Tagaris.
Perhaps the findings of the study tells us that is going to take longer than the 2008 election before candidates will fully understand the potential impact that blogging and online campaigning can have.
Daniel Glover writes that the number of bloggers on campaign payrolls has grown significantly since the US Presidential election of 2004.
'With increasing frequency, candidates across the country are paying bloggers to write, develop Web sites, connect with energetic allies on the Internet, respond to online critics, and advise their employers about how to behave in the blogosphere', writes Glover.
According to the article the pay scale ranges from bloggers who earn a few hundred dollars a month to bloggers earning top dollar for their expertise - and it is no surprise that it is the A-list bloggers from the 2004 campaign that rank highest on the payrolls.
Cnn's take on the topic:
The latest tactical move by left wing bloggers in the US election campaign is called ‘Google Bombing'.
The campaign, outlined by Chris Bowers of MyDD last week, aims to utilize ‘Google Adwords and simultaneous, widespread embedded hyperlinks in order to drive as many voters as possible toward the most damning, non-partisan article written on the Republican candidate in seventy key US Senate and House races.
As a study by Pew Internet and American Life Project demonstrates, the number one way voters use the Internet for political action is to search for candidate information. Bowers anticipates that if a negative article about a candidate appears both high on all Google searches and as an advertisement whenever anyone search for the candidate, this will increase the likelihood that the article will be seen and trusted by those searching for the information.
According to an article by Heather Greenfield, in MSNBC.com, the campaign has been picked up by right wing bloggers who urge their ilk to use a ‘fight fire with fire’ strategy. However, there are concerns among the right wing bloggers that the Google Bombing-campaign might only work for Democrats writes Greenfield.
The form of campaigning has met mixed critiques according to MSNBC.com. It is seen as both a clever and cost-effective way to campaign. However, online strategists such as Mike Connell of Connell Donatelli Inc., said to MSNBC.com that the Google Bombing-campaign might have been sparked too late to work in time for the election.
Google is definitely not thrilled by the idea.
This is a very interesting way of running a campaign and we will hopefully hear more about its effect after the November election.
A New Campaign Tactic: Manipulating Google Data - The New York Times
Other campaigns in the US Election: Use it or lose it
Follow the developments in the Google Bombing Campaign at MyDD
While our website has primarily been focusing on the blogs of notable politicians, we would also like to note that focus groups, with their ability to sway the vote and draw attention, also deserve recognition for their political work in the blogosophere. From the left side of the spectrum, we have the Friends of Hylebos, a group of Americans dedicated to saving their local wetlands area. Through their blog, they have created a community of like-minded individuals and have definite potential to sway votes. Props to them for creating an easily-readable and frequently-updated blog that involves a large segment of the population in the process. And on the other side, we can at least sleep peacefully knowing that bloggers (if no one else) are looking out for wealthy capitalists who have been accused of environmental crimes by poor natives. Eric Ness has created a blog aimed at clearing his father of pollution charges in Indonesia. Mineweb tells us that the blog has “managed to capture and sustain the attention of U.S. politicians, the international news media, the U.S. State Department, and other stakeholders.” Powerful stuff, I’ll admit. My favourite part is how Eric Ness posts a document that accuses NGOs of undermining democracy. It’s a bold move for a man who hasn’t updated his blog in almost three weeks. In the blogosphere, timeliness is next to godliness.
Mydd.com has an interesting post today about something that we at Blog Campaigning have not yet considered: the potential for blogs (and, more generally, the internet) to be used as a fundraising tool. The author of the article draws a direct link to the organisational and influential power of blogs in the political sphere, and uses evidence of American Democratic funding as an example. Additionally, the author points out that bloggers have been one of the driving forces behind making mainstream media carry stories about Republican scandals. In fact, some of these blogs are becoming the mainstream media. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether or not other political parties will be as successfully championed by bloggers as the Democrats have.
In the fried-chicken heartland of conservative America, the blogs have found an open ear. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that at a recent convention for political bloggers in Kentucky, a number of hopeful attendees had to be turned away due to lack of space. The paper goes on to remind us that the number of hits a blog gets is not necessarily the most important measure of how effective it is. Large sites like bluegrassreport.org act as more of a news website in that they attract mostly passive visitors rather than ones that actively engage with the blog’s content. Smaller, more localized blogs seem to encourage participation and while they might not do a great deal to alter federal elections, their potential for influencing the outcome of a local election is apparent.