Jon Henke, netroots co-ordinator for the George Allen campaign, has posted an excellent analysis of the importance of blogs to elections:
Republicans — both institutionally and during campaigns — will either develop strategies and hire experts to engage the blogosphere quickly and bumpily as happened with the successful Democratic engagement of the blogosphere. . .or they will do so slowly and with great regret that they’ve effectively ceded to Democrats the most important new political battlefield since talk radio.
Whatever they choose to do, they should be aware that, as effective as the new media has been so far, it’s still developing. Republicans are crawling while Democrats are riding bikes… but there is much more than can be done. The Leftosphere has been effective because of Democratic engagement (both official and surrogate) and the unifying effect of minority status. Republicans have a similar chance now. If they accept the existence of the New Media and develop a holistic, long-term strategy, they can still retake the battlefield.
One lesson of 2006, however, is that the blogs are an effective component of the Triangle. Were Democrats not as engaged, they would not have the Senate today; were Republicans more engaged, they would still have the Senate.
There’s an additional problem to this. Democrats (and particularly the progressive wing) created their blogosphere mostly from grassroots and activist support. Republicans seem to look behind them to political parties and ask them to counteract the left.
It can’t happen that way.
Sure there are things that grasstops can do to help encourage blogs. But when it comes to what Jon Henke consistently called “developing a narrative” for a campaign, the blogs achieve this.
Add this narrative into a fundraising schematic, and you have classic copywriting tactics. Build the narrative, get people invested, make the ask.
Then there’s the simple fact of who reads the blogs: reporters, activists, pundits, staff, etc. Not the widest audience, but one that soars in quality.
Republicans in Virginia should take note — Jason (Kenney the Lesser) has been consistently beating the drum for what he calls a “Redstate Virginia” effort. Jon Henke has also joined the chorus. I know there are a number of us who are plotting to create precisely that, and there are a number of groups trying to circumvent ineptitude (V*CAP’s one million conservative voter effort, the Freedom and Prosperity Agenda, Tertium Quids are fine examples).
We gotta break out. More to come, friends.