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Today, Paul Ayres from the Intute: Social Sciences team in Bristol, looks at the role blogs can play in elections.
The political blogosphere is probably the most heated part of the world of online social science comment. With the US Presidential election in full swing, it seems apt that I take this as my subject for looking at the effect blogs can have on elections, by looking at some of my favourites.
Most mainstream media outlets now supplement their news coverage with a blog. One of my favourites is the Hotline on Call blog, a team blog from various political correspondents who work for the National Journal. It’s a rapid fire round-up of the latest election news, which can generate a lot of blog posts at key times of the campaign and provides an excellent summary of what is happening in the mainstream media Stateside. However, my favourite part is the HotLine TV daily video update, which usually features editors Amy Walter and John Mercurio.
During the campaign they have made a habit of posting special videos marking the departure of various candidates from the Presidential race.
But what about proper academic sources? No one site stands out above the rest, but The Monkey Cage features some good writing from four professors of political science at George Washington University. Among their number is Henry Farrell, who is also a contributor to Crooked Timber, one of those rare interdisciplinary blogs which cover a range of social science topics, including US politics. Another team blog is PolySigh, which includes analysis from Philip Klinker and has been particularly strong on racial and religious aspects of voter analysis. While the CalTech Election Updates blog and the Election Law @ Moritz blog provide valuable round-ups on the mechanics and legal aspects of voting.
Elections of course mean polling and the joys of polling data, undecideds breaking towards the challenger, margins of error and all sorts of other psephological nuances. While not presented as a blog, Electoral-Vote.com presents a daily analysis of the latests polls, maps of how this affects the overall national picture and occasional think pieces on broader issues – the latest of which is How Good Are Experienced Presidents? Or if you would like an alternative, The Gallop Poll presents updates of election data and their Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Frank Newport gives you the stories behind the latest polling numbers on their YouTube channel.
If you are interested in the broader role that the Internet can play in the campaign, then you really need to read TechPresident, set up by the Personal Democracy Forum to track “how the candidates are using the web and how the web is using them”. It presents a daily round-up on the latest on the web about and by the candidates, it tracks their popularity in terms of a number of popular Web 2.0 sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Technorati, and takes an activist stance asking Who will be America’s first TechPresident. If you want to supplement your TechPresident reading, then why not try PrezVid from Jeff Jarvis, which is tracking the YouTube element of the campaign.
Of course, there are plenty of other elections where the blogosphere can make an impact. In London, there’s a mayoral election coming up where MayorWatch is rounding up the latest news about the campaign and some say that political blogging is becoming more relevant in the Arab world too. In Europe, Roland Abold looks back on their role in the 2005 German elections and there is even an interesting visual representation of the French political blogosphere that reflects on their presidential election last year.
For some further academic analysis of the electoral blogosphere try:
- The Power and Politics of Blogs by Drezner and Farrell
- Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere by Bowers and Stoller
- Political Blogs and the Bloggers who Blog them? by Wallsten
- Understanding the Political Influence of Blogs by Sroka
- Mapping the US Political Blogosphere by Ackland
- The Political Blogophere and the 2004 US Election by Adamic and Glance
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