Political Candidate Blogs - are they a farce? The BloggerCon panel with representatives from several political campaigns was quite interesting and revealing. There was lots of enthusiasm and claims, for example, how the Dean Campaign blog was responsible for this incredible community of supporters and how they led to some incredible fund razing success. The ultimate grassroots phenomenon, the reinvention of democracy. While much newer, the Clark Campaign blog is heading in the same direction. It is inspirational and idealistic.
Except there's something a little fishy here. None of the blogs are actually written by candidates. They are a combination of writing by "official campaign bloggers" or blogging teams, and they apparently also include huge contributions from "the public" (in the form of comments and discussions.) But, the actual candidates are don't participate.
Well, I guess it's the idealist in me that considers that fishy. The realist/cynic in me believes that this is just another medium that the candidate can use to get our vote. Someone at BloggerCon said, sadly, it's all about the money. No, it's actually all about getting the vote. Look at it this way: the candidate is one person. They have to reach millions of people to get elected. Reach them and convince them to vote, and convince them to vote for the candidate.
Every minute of the Candidates day, I would guess, is spent in the way calculated by "the pros" to lead to the most votes for the candidate. Someone thinks about whether 10 minutes spent being interviewed 12 months before the election will produce more votes than spending those same 10 minutes taking a nap, having a beer, going for a walk, shaking hands, etc. It's a precise optimization of the single irreplacable resource: the candidates time.
So the time spent participating in the blog is put into that same calculation and we see the result of that calculation is that participation in the blog by the candidate doesn't make the cut. Why?
My interpretation is that the actual impact of blogs on a candidacy is currently still measured purely in terms of actually generating votes, and not in terms of how it reinvents democracy or gives the electorate a greater voice. I suspect that those would be second and third order effects that we will only be able to guage with time.