Election-Year Blogging Examined
Photo Illustration by Eric Pipkin
Blogs have become a key part of presidential campaign strategy. An analysis of political blogs leading up to the 2008 presidential election finds differences in the use of blogs by Democrats and Republicans.
Robert H. Wicks, communication professor at the University of Arkansas, worked with a team of graduate students to analyze the content of four politically aligned blogs and six nonaligned blogs. They looked at blog posts from the day that Joe Biden was announced as the first vice presidential candidate to Election Day. Their results were published by the journal American Behavioral Scientist.
The two parties differed in the frequency of blogging on candidate and party websites. In the 2008 election, the researchers found, the Democratic Party deployed blogs on its candidate and party websites 11.6 times as often as the Republican Party. By and large, the GOP blogs used text with some video, while the majority of the Democratic blogs offered images, video or slideshows along with text.
Nonaligned blogs attacked more often than they praised. Five of the six nonaligned blogs posted attacks in 30 percent to 50 percent of their entries, while they posted acclaims from 8 percent to 26 percent of the time. Rebuttals were few from any source, making up only 4.4 percent of the total.
The researchers point out that blogs tend to present a black-and-white world. They both “expand the opportunities for healthy debate in a free society” and “enable people to avoid information that may be unpleasant or unwelcome.”