Friday, July 15, 2005


Dean Barret at The Daily Standard on why Daily KOS' readership numbers have not dipped after the US election, while right leaning blog numbers are down:
The Daily KOS should provide the party's most devoted adherents with a constructive outlet for their energy; indeed it does. The site has raised bundles of money for Democratic politicians and its patrons certainly have a surfeit of passion that they're willing to bring to any political conversation. The problem for the Democratic party is that, like much of the country, it has a dim understanding of the blogosphere. The party is not alone in its denseness here. Much of America's existing power structure still has no idea what to make of blogs. This trait was recently put on embarrassing public display in an obtuse Doonesbury strip. In the piece at issue, Garry Trudeau suggested that bloggers were "angry, semi-employed losers"... The Democratic party, on the other hand, errs in precisely the opposite fashion as Trudeau. While Moulitsas recognizes that the left-wing blogosphere is a world unto itself, if establishment Democrats have any awareness of that fact they have yet to betray it. Where Trudeau feels bloggers are a bunch of shut-in half-wits, the Democratic party seems to be under the impression that bloggers are an enormous, important constituency--and that it must go to whatever lengths necessary to win the hearts and minds of this virtual community.
Barret offers a lot of common sense here. In Canada, for example, the polling numbers of the Conservative Party routinely dip between elections. During these dips, as sure as winter means hockey, the other side of the political sphere will point to those numbers and claim that people are 'leaving the conservatives' because of... well, pick some bugbear of the left and insert it here. Another fallacy about conservatives in politics is that conservatism is on the way out because only 'old' people hold it. When they die, look out man! Again, stop and think. People do tend towards conservatism as they age, and I'll argue that is because as they get more experience, they get wiser, humbler, and less grandiose. It doesn't happen to everyone, but it happens enough that I'm not worried about conservatism dying out any time soon. The age difference is a plus in many ways. Older voters are more likely to get out and vote, for one thing. For another, they are less likely to be easily discouraged. I have no doubt that the dip in poll numbers in Canada, and the dip in conservative blog readership in the U.S., is because these older and wiser souls have decided to tune out the gamesmanship and B.S. that comes with the day to day slugfest of political life. They're out there working, enjoying their families, and doing the things of life. When it comes time to vote, being in tune with the ins and outs of life will effect how they vote and one can argue that is a better thing than being driven by the spin machines of either political camp. I recall that when the Conservatives here tried to bring down the current minority government a short while ago, the blogosphere was all abuzz, especially the conservative ones (including yours truly). That atmosphere was not matched in my experiences away from blogs and newspapers. Some people I talked with at work and elsewhere were only vaguely aware of what was going on. They knew there might be a vote soon and if they had any nose for politics they knew how it might come about. Few if any would admit to having any personal interest in the story and there was no real sense of outrage when Stronach crossed the floor and the vote wound up a tie, allowing the government to survive. I hope and suspect that when it comes time to vote, that the story of that event will not be forgotten. It will be weighed alongside other issues, some of which will be unknown at this point. My own experiences tell me that bloggers are not representative of the population at large. While older bloggers and expert bloggers are not that unusual, I suspect that most bloggers and blog readers skew young. They have the time to devote to blogging and the ability to pick up on new technologies quickly. MSM response to the changes wrought by new tech has, overall, not been nearly as impressive. Bloggers probably also have better than average literacy and better than average curiosity. Bloggers are, in a nutshell, a notable group - youngish, smart and literate and disposed to debate and to thinking about issues more so than the general public. Can bloggers lead public opinion? That's the big question, and one that the jury is still out on. It may hinge on influential celebrity bloggers emerging in Canada, or perhaps celebrated political portals. I don't think anyone in Canada has critical mass yet.

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