- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The rampant popularity and influence of political blogs may be a myth, according to new research.

“It seems like there is at least a handful of political blogs which chart attitudes and opinions on campaigns, issues and candidates relevant to that political leaning. One always hears about a blog breaking news before the ‘mainstream media’ actually covers it. But are people really reading these blogs? The answer is no, as over half of Americans — 56 percent — say they never read blogs that discuss politics,” said a Harris poll released yesterday.

Less than a quarter of the respondents said they read political blogs a few times a year, while 22 percent said they consult them several times a month or more. Only 4 percent were daily readers.

Political blogs resonate most with Republicans, who are more likely to read, trust, value and comment on political blogs than their Democratic counterparts, the survey found. Almost 40 percent of Republicans, for example, said blogs were more accurate than the mainstream press, compared with 21 percent of Democrats. About the same percentage said political blogs were more “valuable” than the press.

Certain news events have done much to enhance public perception that blogs were ahead of the curve. In 2006, former Virginia Sen. George Allen’s “macaca moment” was showcased by Daily Kos and other liberal or progressive blogs and is credited with derailing the Republican’s bid for re-election.



Power Line was among a handful of conservative blogs that provided clear evidence disproving a CBS News report questioning President Bush’s Vietnam-era military service during the 2004 presidential campaign. The blog has since become a mainstay in many Republican news diets, perhaps due to a long-standing journalistic credo.

“Why do people read us? It goes back to the idea that we present a solid core of facts, and argue within those facts. There are a lot of bloggers who tend to spout off about their feelings and reactions. Some are terrific writers and a fun read. Our approach is to be more analytic,” said John H. Hinderaker, one of three writers for Power Line, which was proclaimed “Blog of the Year” by Time Magazine after the CBS scoop.

The site consistently logs up to 80,000 visits a day, Mr. Hinderaker said.

“That figure astonishes us sometimes. We really assume readers don’t want to hear about our feelings, though we always try to stay good-humored,” he added.

The Harris poll, meanwhile, found that political blog readership was lowest among those younger than 40 — and highest among people 63 and older. The online Harris survey of 2,302 adults was conducted Jan. 15-22.

“Much was made of the power of the blogs in 2004 for both Republicans and Democrats. … Or, maybe the novelty of blogs has faded,” the poll said.

The aspirations of would-be bloggers have not, however. According to Technorati — a comprehensive blog about blogging — 100,000 new blogs of every stripe are created each day.

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