Then again, without Allen’s own videotaped gaffes and botched damage control, the tireless work of Webb’s blogging hired hands, and his many more blogging amateurs, probably wouldn’t have mattered all that much.
Still, when Allen did begin to meltdown in August, the bloggers for Webb were already in place. Moreover, they were practiced and poised to bury Allen, which they did quite effectively. Watching the mainstream media covering the blogosphere’s role in exacerbating the Allen campaign’s meltdown was fascinating.
Now veteran campaign experts of every stripe are trying to figure out what happened in Virginia. One of the obvious things they will see is there were more bloggers for Webb than Allen.
Just prior to the Nov. 7 election the editors of two of the aggregators of Virginia’s political blogosphere were asked about the number of blogs they had listed, and how they decided whether to list them, as well as how they categorized them.
Waldo Jaquith, editor of Virginia Political Blogs, said: “I count 94 by Democrats, 66 by Republicans and 19 that are not clearly discernible, centrist, or bipartisan. I’m afraid that I haven’t kept any records of trends -- I just add new ones as I spot them or as people submit them.”
The editor of BlogNetNews, Dave Mastio, said: “[T]here are 70 libs, 46 cons and about 20 or 30 I haven’t categorized yet, mostly more recent ads. By the way, I am not trying to achieve any kind of balance -- I want people who are writing about Virginia state and local issues. Other than that I want to accurately reflect the state of the blogosphere however it happens to be tilted.”
Another thing any study of how the race played out on the Internet can’t help but reveal is that the quality of the information offered by the blogs supporting Webb was consistently superior to the blogs for Allen. Thus, the advantage Webb had with influential bloggers eventually filtered down to flush out more volunteers, more money and more momentum for the stretch run.
Whether this phenomenon can be bottled and used in other states, in other races, remains to be seen. For now, what happened in the 2006 Virginia senatorial race, to do with blogs, is something that has the political pros’ attention.
Was Webb’s remarkable win, owing much to blogs, a fluke? Or, is Virginia’s churning blogosphere, flying by the seat of its pants, the avant-garde of American politics?
Ed Note: In the paragraph above where Waldo Jaquith says how many blogs were by Democrats, Republicans and so forth, I have made a change of what was a typo. "Democrats" was changed to "Republicans". Thanks to the two readers (in the comments section) who caught the mistake.