Thursday, February 08, 2007
McCain's Blogger Problem
There are many interesting trends to follow in the upcoming election season. One that I like to look at will be the influence of the blogosphere on the upcoming contests, and what that will mean to future elections. Currently, I believe the influence is minimal, especially in the general election process, but it is growing and could become a factor, especially in the primaries.
That being said, the blogosphere clearly has an issue with John McCain. Take for instance the online polling done by pajamas media. This site, I would argue is pretty representative of the general state of right leaning bloggers, and is not made up of conservative fire eaters. McCain polls at 2.7% That has to be disconcerting.
Now do a search for a McCain blog. I googled "McCain Blog" and I get a site that auto-gathers McCain-based news feeds, a bunch of anti-McCain blogs, and one that looked promising until I checked the date of the last posting. Indeed, our area's own Thinkright Arizona and Political Mafioso are about as prominent as can be generally found touting McCain, and even they give other issues more or equal time to their McCain coverage.
McCain has recognized this of course, and hired a blogger, which seems to be the "in" thing to do (although I am not expecting any pay day soon.) Although Patrick Hynes has a good pedigree, I'm not sure that he has the stature to combat the problem that hurts McCain with bloggers.
What are these problems? I believe that they are twofold.
1. McCain-Feingold. Many bloggers, wrongly or rightly, equate this bill with the crushing of free speech and liken it to an "incumbent protection program." They believe it unfairly tilts power away from the average citizen in favor of the news room who is free to run any article or opinion about an issue or candidate right before the election, while a private citizen is not allowed to do the same. Issues about free speech as pertaining to blogs also appear every once in a while, and McCain is usually linked to them in some form, again, rightly or wrongly.
2. McCain's relationship with the press. If you show up on Meet the Press so much you have your own coffee mug, the blogosphere will not like you. There is an inherent distrust of the major media outlets, which many bloggers use as their justification for even being bloggers. There are very few candidates who can bridge the gap between Media darling and Internet icon. McCain is an example of the first, Howard Dean is an example of the second. Note that this can go both ways. Look what the Mainstream Media did to Howard Dean after his defeat in Iowa.
Now, as I was preparing to write this article, I thought to myself that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. However, it appears that Team McCain is on the same page and is attempting to do something about it.
Keep in mind, however, that the blogosphere is not as powerful as many of us would like to believe. It is very possible that McCain's major media starpower will simply be too much to be dimmed by a pesky pack of bloggers. After all, the mainstream media is mainstream for a reason. It is likely that a plurality of the voters who decide the primary and general election have never read a single blog, and have no plans on starting. It is my opinion, however, that McCain needs to continue his outreach.
After all, should it come down to the general election, who would a good Republican candidate rather have covering his back, a dedicated, perhaps fanatical network of bloggers, or the Mainstream Media?
Posted by Framer at 9:55 PM