The Influence Of Bloggers On General Elections

Over at Democrats.com, cmkay is mourning the loss of Nedmentum up in Connecticut:

“Ned Lamont was the blogosphere’s first primary victory, but now he’s probably going to lose the general election. I seldom see his name on the blogs any more. I see negative things about Lieberman, but never anything positive about Lamont. Why is that?

Do bloggers have what it takes to actually get a candidate elected? And if we don’t, what are we trying to accomplish?”

Here are the problems that bloggers have in trying to influence general elections:

1) We MAY, in some rare cases, be able to raise enough money to impact a House race, but not enough to make a difference in Senate races (although, of course, in either case, every little bit helps).

2) People in the middle and on the other side simply don’t care what we have to say. In other words, the left-side-of-the-blogosphere can rant, day in and day out, all day long, about Joe Lieberman, but no one is going to care except the people who are already going to vote for Lamont anyway.

3) Blogs don’t do that much original reporting, so we’re not likely to break some enormous story that will kill a campaign. Of course, along those same lines, the mainstream media doesn’t need to do much original reporting this time of year either. Most of the big stories you see from this point onward will have been ferreted out by opposition researchers and fed to media outlets.

So, if let’s say John Tester or Ned Lamont won, would the left side of the blogosphere have had anything to do with it? Only in the sense that they helped them win the primaries. Their influence in the general election will, in reality, be very small indeed.

Same goes for the Righroots effort. Is it a good thing that we’ve raised more than $205,000 so far? Absolutely. Did we perhaps focus a little extra media attention on our candidates by talking them up? Yes. Is it possible that attention helped encourage other people and organizations to donate and help out our candidates? Yes. But, if our endorsed candidates win, it won’t be because we picked them up on our shoulders and carried them over the finish line.

Long story short: Can bloggers make a significant difference in primaries and intraparty politics? Yes. But, in general elections? Outside of the “Rathergate” style big stories that we occasionally break, not so much.

Hat tip to Beltway Bloggers for the Democrats.com quote.

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