Money talks

by Henry on March 9, 2004

It’s extraordinary how quickly the blogosphere has become a significant channel for political donations; Atrios has raised $25,000 in five days for the Kerry campaign. I’ve no doubt that this will be a big issue of debate at the blogging panel that Dan Drezner and I are organizing for the APSA meeting this September. My spur-of-the-moment impression – to the extent that this favours one side, it’s going to favour the Democrats. Regardless of whether the blogosphere tilts left or tilts right (your guess is as good as mine), the most-read blogs on the liberal-left side of the spectrum are much more closely aligned with the Democratic party apparatus than the blogs on the right are with the Republican machine. They also have the precedent of MoveOn, and of the Dean movement to build on. Rightbloggers, even the ones who support the administration, tend to self-identify as libertarians rather than Republicans, and maintain a little distance from the formal aspects of the Republican party. I could be wrong, but I don’t see Glenn Reynolds hosting appeals for donations to the Republican National Committee, let alone Eugene Volokh. Andrew Sullivan might have up to a month or so ago, but not today.

How big a deal this is remains to be seen; my guess is that its consequences will be significant, but not enormous. Where it will have an impact is in terms of the agenda-setting power of the few bloggers who can and will raise large amounts of cash for the cause. If Atrios can keep on getting people to donate that kind of money, the powers that be in the Democratic party are going to start taking him quite seriously indeed. Especially if the FEC starts cracking down on soft-money contributions to 527s. Developing, as they say.

{ 9 comments }

1

bob mcmanus 03.09.04 at 4:42 am

So is it interesting that one of the top ten bloggers (Kevin Drum’s Calpundit) has signed onto a commercial contract with the Washington Monthly?

This is not to cast aspersions or even suspicions on Kevin or the magazine; I honestly have none. But I would guess that Kevin could no longer do the fund-raising that Atrios does.

But it might raise questions about the future independence/audience/influence of the blogosphere.

2

praktike 03.09.04 at 5:12 am

Don’t forget the massive wingnut online communities like FreeRepublic.com. They may be functionally illiterate, but they are highly partisan, and I imagine they’ll give.

3

bad Jim 03.09.04 at 6:56 am

Atrios, the Beatle of bloggers, may be a special case – today, as he notes, somebody sent him a Tivo.

I think I’ll funnel my Kerry contributions through him, though. The cash I pushed at Clinton in times past only got me requests for more. This way my offerings are watermarked: diehard liberal, internet addict.

4

Rich Puchalsky 03.09.04 at 1:52 pm

Most of the high-readership liberal bloggers will naturally move into journalism, as Kevin Drum is doing, or perhaps professional political consulting, as Kos did. I would guess that the best predictor for whether a liberal blogger will become a long-term Democratic Party donation center, without being an actual worker for the party, is whether they are pseudonymous now.

5

Doug 03.09.04 at 2:52 pm

Either Kos or Josh Marshall blogged to the effect that internet appeals map well to Democratic donors, while Republicans seem more inclined to plump for direct mail. There wasn’t much theory on why, just the observation. Given the efficiency of internet fundraising, this seems a net win for the Ds.

6

ervan 03.10.04 at 5:16 am

I think that the reason many “liberal” bloggers are aligning this election is GW. In the past, the lefties haven’t been as motivated to participate in establishment politics and GW has motivated them to practicality rather than an interest in raising money for the Dem machine.

7

Ian Whitchurch 03.10.04 at 10:10 pm

The blogsphere allows specific focus in an unbelievable timetable – if Kos and co are convinced that Candidate X needs a cold grand an hour, every hour for fourty-eight hours to win, they can get it to them. The example is Ben Chandler in Kentucky.

I’ll quote Josh Marshall …

“But another part of the story is Internet fundraising. As you’ll notice there on the left, the Chandler campaign has been advertising for about the last two weeks on this and a number of other blogs. The campaign budgeted about two grand for blog advertising. And my understanding is that by today they had raised close to $100,000 from contributors who linked through from those blogs on which the campaign was advertising. “

Two thousand down, and a fortnight later there’s a hundred grand in the kitty.

The blogsphere allows specific focus – if Kos and co are convinced that Candidate X needs a cold grand an hour, every hour for fourty-eight hours to win, they can get it to them.

This is as important a political development as Lyndon Johnson’s links to the Texas independant oilmen, back in the 1940s, and for exactly the same reasons.

8

Ian Whitchurch 03.10.04 at 10:11 pm

The blogsphere allows specific focus in an unbelievable timetable – if Kos and co are convinced that Candidate X needs a cold grand an hour, every hour for fourty-eight hours to win, they can get it to them. The example is Ben Chandler in Kentucky.

I’ll quote Josh Marshall …

“But another part of the story is Internet fundraising. As you’ll notice there on the left, the Chandler campaign has been advertising for about the last two weeks on this and a number of other blogs. The campaign budgeted about two grand for blog advertising. And my understanding is that by today they had raised close to $100,000 from contributors who linked through from those blogs on which the campaign was advertising. “

Two thousand down, and a fortnight later there’s a hundred grand in the kitty.

This is as important a political development as Lyndon Johnson’s links to the Texas independant oilmen, back in the 1940s, and for exactly the same reasons.

9

Dave F 03.11.04 at 11:18 am

I get the impression that Glenn Reynolds does not regard himself as a Republican. I know he has a libertarian position on various issues.
I suspect he might vote Democrat .

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