Battlepanda: The blogisphere disconnect


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The blogisphere disconnect

The first time I came across the blogisphere disconnect was in the Democratic primaries of the last presidential election cycle. I was moderately pro-Dean at first, but soon switched to Edwards and really got involved with fervor. If I had to pick my top three candidates, it would be Edwards followed by Dean and Clark, with everybody else left way in the dust. I have a feeling if you did a straw poll in left blogisphere my view would be pretty close to the consensus, with individual preferences changing, but the general top 3 group staying the same. I watched well-nigh in amazement as Kerry rounded up primary after primary, building momentum on back of the fuzzily held idea of "electability" and soon became unstoppable. Before that point, I used to think of the blogisphere as an extension of the general populace, the politically aware avant-guard -- we go where eventually they would follow. But in reality, it was more like the blogisphere was a petty bantustan -- our brilliant argument and petty squabbles alike were quite irrelevant. Now, I want to stress that this confidence that the public would eventually come around to our way of thinking is not down to arrogance, well, not arrogance of the obvious sort. I never thought that the blogs had enough influence to give the election one way or another to any candidate. However, I did put great stock in our ability to be well-informed and to prognosticate based upon that information. But when the public took a look at the candidates, they evidently did not see what we see.

This disconnect is continuing. Chris at MyDD has an interesting piece on why the netroots (I would say the blogs in general) dislikes Hilary Clinton despite the fact that she would be the frontrunner candidate if the primaries were held tomorrow. On the right, I see that McCain is considered the least desirable candidate and Condoleeza Rice the most desirable. I'm not an expert on the preference of the Republican masses, but I have a feeling those rankings don't reflect more general sentiments.

Where does the disconnect come from? Is it possible that the blogisphere is simply better informed about the candidates than the public? Then how come public opinion diverge so strongly with the blog consensus close to election, when there is so much information out there? Is it because the bloggers are just a more radical group? Certainly possible. Or it could be that the blogisphere is small enough for a few well-made arguments to gather support as they spread through linkage, gaining in influence and credibility until the tipping point is reached and it becomes conventional wisdom -- but only among those who read and write the blogs.