Bloggers Don’t Change Minds; We Cater to the Base

Chalk this post up to catch up from last week’s downtime. 

Without getting into a lot of details, I had a discussion last week with another liberal family member who expressed intimidation at debating a more conservative family member on politics.  It was a case of not being as sure of his facts (which have a proven liberal bias) and the parroting of right wing talking points.  I gave him my copy of Ariana Huffington’s new book and a couple of sites to check out.  I am always amazed by how many people no precious little about political blogs. 


And on cue, the LA Times produced this story on political blogs and those who read them. Details, after the jump.

Some excerpts from the article which reports on a landmark 2006 study:

Compared with those who don’t read political blogs, they are more likely to have a college degree and, obviously, are more interested in politics. They are more likely to identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans, rather than as independents, and are more likely to call themselves liberals or conservatives rather than moderates. Political blog readers are more likely to vote, give money to candidates or simply talk about politics. They live and breathe politics.

They also tend to visit blogs that share their viewpoint. Think of such blogs as their red meat. Indeed, 94% read only blogs on one side of the ideological spectrum, with 90% of liberals and 90% of conservatives sticking to like-minded blogs. Self-proclaimed “moderates” don’t blog shop either, with 89% exclusively reading either liberal or conservative blogs.

The study offers little information on political blogs that straddle the fence, suggesting they don’t offer what readers of political blogs want.

Blogs might affect the presidential campaign in another way: by encouraging their readers to participate in politics.

We don’t mean to vote, because blog readers are already habitual voters and need no extra encouragement from blogs to go to the polls. Instead, blogs may prod their readers to engage in other kinds of political activity, such as giving more to candidates or registering and mobilizing new voters. Because fewer people habitually donate to politicians or mobilize others to vote, blogs have more potential to change these habits. Indeed, some blogs put mobilization over persuasion.

So, when we venture over to Red County, we pretty much know we’re not going to change any minds. And when Matt Cunningham wanders over here, he’s not changing any minds either.  But its important to use political blogs to call out new information or remind readers of older positions taken by candidates.  These efforts push the debate forward and, at times, the mainstream media does respond to this new information.

  12 comments for “Bloggers Don’t Change Minds; We Cater to the Base

  1. July 17, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    I’m proud to say I’m one of the 10% who read blogs on the “other side”. I feel that the only way to make progress is to understand the other side. That’s how you win debates. Know the questions/issues that they will bring up and have ready answers for them. Real answers, not just talking points.

  2. Dan Chmielewski
    July 17, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Gary – I’m with you. I also listen to Rush, Hannity and watch O’Reilly. PLease don’t hate me, but I read Coulter’s column too for the fresh hate every week. But for true batsh!t conservatism, nothing beats the FantasyLand that is The Hugh Hewitt Show.

  3. July 17, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    You mean not even LGF?

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    July 17, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    PLease, I have some standards

  5. July 17, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    So the OJ’s recent success is a fluke? Is that what you’re saying? Moderates read blogs on either side of the spectrum (or sometimes both) because that is what’s most readily available to them. True centrist sites barely exist… yet.


  6. Dan Chmielewski
    July 17, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    The post is about a 2006 study of readers of political blogs. That’s what my commentary is directed towards. Now granted things can and do change, but this happens to be the data referenced in the LA Times story from Sunday. My commentary in the post is not directed at OJ, so please remove the chip from your shoulder.

    But you’re right…true centrist sites barely exist. Probably due to a lack of readers.

  7. July 18, 2008 at 6:34 am


    Interesting findings. I guess the Orange Juice is a bit of a fluke.

    I took a creative writing class at UCI years ago. The professor told us that readers crave conflict. So perhaps our readers enjoy the fact that our blog team is all over the map – it is all I can do to keep my team from ripping each other’s heads off at times!

    But it makes for good reading, I think. And apparently the public agrees. I am still in shock over the fact that we have been trouncing Red County for the past two weeks. Who would have thunk it?

    I think that the format can work – but perhaps what makes it tick is that people find what they want on our blog. If one wants left, we have left, and if one wants right we have that too. And if one wants to see politicians from both parties held accountable we definitely fit the bill.

    The one thing the Times did not account for is the massive growth in DTS voters over the last ten years here in California. People are not happy with either party, in many cases. Even on a national level Bush is hated but Congress is even MORE hated.

    This subject certainly bears further scrutiny. And it reminds me of a talk I had once with Martin Wisckol. He said he was jealous that we had so many Democratic readers. I think we may lean more left than right with respect to our readers. Hard core ultra-right Reeps probably don’t like it when I call them Talibani Republicans…

  8. Dan Chmielewski
    July 18, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Art —
    Thanks for chiming in and blogwhoring OJ here; honestly, if you want to promote your blog here, please buy an ad.

    On the creative writing class, did it deal with fiction or non-fiction? Fiction readers tend to crave conflict while non-fiction readers want facts and seek better understanding of a subject matter. If your professor didn’t distinguish between the two, I’d ask for my money back.

    Trouncing Red County? Alexa is not particularly trustworthy and BNN still has them ranked higher than you (are you still using BBN as a measure of success? I love the fact that so many readers kept coming back to our site even thought we were down mots of last week); If RedCounty had SiteMeter, it would be easier to compare.

    And using SiteMeter as a barometer, the Juice has been around for 5 years (60 months) and you’re at, what 409,000/410,000 hits, or about 8500 a month; The LiberalOC has been around 27 months and we’re at 285,000 or about 10,500 a month. Not. Too. Shabby.

    The true measure of “trouncing” boils down to ad support. When you have as many paid ads as Red County does, then you can crow about it.

    On holding politicians accountable, Art, you will *never* hold Janet Nguyen accountable for anything. Both she and Lou Correa accepted money from the same wingnut opposed to Gay Marriage and you lambasted Lou while dismissing Janet for the exact same thing.

    The Times study was of readers of political blogs, not voters of either party or DTS. That was it..they studied habits of readers of political blogs. And while you are correct in noting that Congress has a low approval rating, you neglect to note that Congress is made up on a big chunk of Republians too. Most Americans love their congressional rep but hate the other guys.

    But I have to ask, do you think its possible to comment on a post such as this without turning it into a promo for OJ? I am surprised you didn’t provide links.

  9. July 18, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Hey Stan (‘Mayoral’) –

    If I lived in SanTana I would like, TOTALLY vote for you.


  10. July 18, 2008 at 11:28 pm


    Blogwhoring? How snarky of you. I hate to break it to you but we have had almost three times as many hits as your blog has had this week. And over 17,000 page views.

    I responded to your post because it begged a response, that’s it. We aren’t desperate for hits. We’re doing just fine, thank you very much.

    As for ads, I am working on a new media kit. Our numbers since our redesign are good enough to warrant selling ads. The only reason it has taken me this long to get the ads going is that besides my full time job I teach for four other organizations – and two more just contacted me this week. I don’t have much spare time Dan.

    I am sure however that Matt/Jubal, who spends all his time working on Red County, has plenty of time to sell ads. I don’t think his professional services are as in demand as mine are.

  11. Dan Chmielewski
    July 19, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Blog-whoring. ou did it again in responding.

    Matt doesn’t sell ads.

    You miss the point of blogging entirely Art. Its not about the hits; it’s about making a difference which we manage to do here without calling anyone names.

  12. Dan Chmielewski
    July 20, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Art — Its obvious you either didn’t read the LA Times story or you have trouble comprehending the content.

Comments are closed.