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Jon Henke, one of my earliest friends in the blogosphere, spent the last three months trying to rescue a flailing George Allen campaign in Virginia, landing himself in the middle of one of the biggest mud-flinging campaigns of the election season. Having had that kind of experience, Jon had a unique vantage point from which to see the interaction between political parties, voters, and the blogosphere. He's written his post-mortem, in which he congratulates the liberal blogs for their impact:
Perhaps the biggest success of the Leftosphere happened here in Virginia, as Jim Webb took a long-shot campaign and, with a significant boost from the netroots, capitalized on the general anti-Republican zeitgeist and the missteps of George Allen to pull out a win.
Make no mistake, without the netroots, Webb would not have won. He may not even have been close. It was a long-cultivated activism/outreach/media-hounding New Media campaign that brought Webb to the attention of the institutional Democrats, sold him to the activists and shaped the narratives of both Webb and Allen for the media.
Specifically, I’d draw your attention to the Raising Kaine (run by Webb campaign staff) and Not Larry Sabato (a surrogate "oppo" outlet with plausible distance from the campaign) blogs, both of which have now played a major part in the elections of Tim Kaine and Jim Webb. Though there were aspects of their efforts with which I had real problems, there is no denying that their efforts to (a) generate local and national attention, (b) develop the narratives early and (c) sell Webb carefully were tremendously effective.
Without a doubt, they had a good election -- but I question whether they would have had that kind of year regardless of the efforts of the blogosphere. The race in Virginia was close enough to where they undoubtedly had an effect, but I thought Jon was pretty effective engaging conservative bloggers.
However, one point cannot be easily dismissed, and that was the power of the blogs on the Left to organize. We tried something similar on the Right, but we started too late to have much of an impact. I think many of us felt more comfortable in providing analysis rather than engaging in a more participatory fashion. That may spring from our critcisms of the press for being too participatory, or from an impulse to maintain some fistance for credibility.
If the Right blogosphere (which Dafydd ab Hugh calls the dextrosphere) wants to be a player in elections, it needs to start now. The outcry over the GOP's Congressional leadership elections may have galvanized us, convincing us that engagement has to take place soon in order to help shape a Republican Party that will deliver on the core principles we have discussed at length. That's the reason why I've started working on the First Principles project, which has already attracted interest from other significant right-leaning bloggers. I'll be doing some work on this during my California vacation, and I'm hoping to have this running before Christmas.
Somehow, though, I think Jon will be busy with other work. If the new Republican leadership in Congress wants to start taking the blogs seriously, then they can leverage Jon's experience under fire to help engage us -- but only if they're willing to listen.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» A Look At Blogs, Elections, And Political Parties from Bill's Bites
A Look At Blogs, Elections, And Political PartiesEd Morrissey Jon Henke, one of my earliest friends in the blogosphere, spent the last three months trying to rescue a flailing George Allen campaign in Virginia, landing himself in the middle of [Read More]
Tracked on November 19, 2006 1:15 PM
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The post election political situation in Washington DC and in Columbus, Ohio has been more interesting than the dull and lackluster campaign season. Usually, when one party wins a landslide in an election, the platform of the elected party appears on ... [Read More]
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Tracked on November 19, 2006 8:01 PM
» Credit Where Due To The Netroots from Beltway Blogroll
"Make no mistake, without the netroots, Webb would not have won. He may not even have been close." Believe it or not, those are the words of Jon Henke, the QandO blogger hired as the new media adviser and campaign... [Read More]
Tracked on November 20, 2006 12:07 PM
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