Campaigns Differ in Approach to Political Blogosphere

US blogosphere map

Today’s Columbia Journalism Review has an article by Renee Feltz on the election blog study we are working on in partnership with Columbia’s Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Reporting and John Kelly. Renee writes that the results of her interviews with bloggers and blogger outreach coordinators shows “…a fundamental difference in the candidates’ approach to the blogosphere.”

According to the article:

Barack Obama’s campaign reaches out to activist bloggers in order to communicate with and mobilize campaign volunteers and feed them into its online social networking site, MyBarackObama.com. In contrast, John McCain’s campaign takes a top-down approach, using blogs—many of which it helped incubate—as an echo chamber for channeling mostly anti-Obama attacks into the mainstream media, in order to create an impression of grassroots online support.

As John’s recent map of the US blogosphere shows, two new clusters emerged in the summer that were not part of the traditional political blog network. Feltz writes of these clusters:

The use of the incubation technique is evident in a map of 8,000 blogs produced by Morningside Analytics for a joint investigation by Columbia University’s Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Reporting and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In addition to two large clusters of mostly longtime conservative and liberal bloggers, the map shows a ‘halo’ of about 500 relatively new blogs in two isolated clusters. One cluster includes several hundred anti-Obama blogs (orange) and the other contains several hundred pro-McCain and pro-Palin blogs (green). Most of them were created in mid-July 2007 or afterwards, and are listed listed on “blogrolls” such as McCain Victory 2008 and the NoBama network.

John Kelly says that pro-McCain/Palin blogs that heavily link to each other but not the existing political blogosphere, “…indicates it is not a particularly effective communications strategy, because these sites don’t draw much attention from established bloggers on the left of the right.” However, they did appear to allow the McCain campaign to “generate a buzz for attacks on Obama.” For example, blogs that focus on Acorn or Bill Ayers can lead to higher hits on Google searches about Obama and create the perception of widespread outrage, which has the ability to frame news coverage.

And confirming what others have noted before, the Obama campaign has not reached out as significantly to bloggers, and has focused instead on its own social networking site; which is not surprising given Facebook co-Founder Chris Huges’s role in the campaign.

We’ll report out in the future on the results of our coding of hundreds of these blogs, but in the mean time check out the full CJR article here.

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3 Responses to “Campaigns Differ in Approach to Political Blogosphere”

  1. Shifting The Debate Says:

    How Campaigning in a Web 2.0 World Differs…

    This morning the New York Times explored “Campaigns in a Web 2.0 World” and while they captured the user-generated nature of Web 2.0 technology (YouTube, Facebook, Blogs, etc.), they neglected the role social networks play in increased the speed at…

  2. To blog is to live | Antony Loewenstein Says:

    […] did the two major political parties in the US use the blogosphere to push their […]

  3. ismael Says:

    So, it’s not about blogging: it’s about being in the conversation 🙂