February 13, 2004
Blogads for Congress
Looks like the success of Ben Chandler's online fundraising via BlogAds has already spawned the inevitable successors. So far, Georgai's John Barrow and Texas' Morris Meyer are running ads on blogs, and I'm sure they won't be the last ones to do so. I seriously doubt they'll replicate Chandler's 20-fold return on their investment, as they're in regular November races and don't have Atrios and Kos beating the drums for them on a daily basis (at least, not yet), but with the low cost of blog ads and the high interest of the audience, it's a pretty good risk to take.
My main concern is that for all the talk of the blog revolution, the fact still remains that even a powerhouse like Kos only gets 100,000 hits per day, which doesn't take into account repeat visits and search engine queries. No matter how passionate that audience is, it's not very deep and I fear it'll get tapped out pretty quickly. There's also a whole lot of overlap between those who read, say, Kos, Atrios, and Calpundit. For this to be a long-term success, the pool of regulars needs to keep expanding. The good news there is that all three do have growing readerships - Calpundit is already close to equalling his best month ever, while both Atrios and Kos are halfway there with more than half of February to go. It would be very much in the Democratic Party's best interests to do what it can to help continue this trend.
Getting back to Barrow and Meyer, they're both worthy of support - Barrow for running in an eminently winnable district (one that voted 55% for Al Gore) and Meyer for running against the execrable Joe Barton - and I hope they get it. If anyone from those campaigns reads this and would like to comment on how the blog ad experience has been for them, I'd love to hear from you. Finally, though he's not currently running any blog ads that I'm aware of, please keep Richard Morrison and his quest to rid us all of Tom DeLay in your thoughts when you're making your campaign contributions.
UPDATE: Add another advertising-on-blogs candidate Doug Haines, also a candidate in GA 12. I hope the fact that he's in the primary with John Barrow doesn't sow any dissension.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 13, 2004 to Election 2004
My concern is that high-profile bloggers are still low-profile journalists, and will they resist the temptation to alter their views of a candidate that is paying to advertise on their weblog.
Okay, so it's not like the candidates are advertising on the tit-for-tat make-up-your-story New York Times editorial pages, but still...
Yes, a blogger will probably only allow candidates he agrees with or tolerates to advertise on his weblog, but then, there's weirdos like ME that allow the ACLU to advertise on his blog despite thinking the ACLU is nothing but a death-of-a-thousand-cuts plague upon society wrapping itself in a selective reading of the Constitution.
I don't know Chandler, Barrow, and Meyer from nobody. I've got some money fishing for a great candidate, in spite of my having squandered some money on the Presidential races. If someone put up a low-spin website with info on Congressional candidate attributes including election prospects, I'd be interested. I don't know whether other people would use it too. But people interested in Atrios' Kos' and Calpundit's musings may be a small subset of computer users interested enough in politics to send money.
For me, a great candidate bows to the Constitution, and doesn't bow to special interest legislation, so s/he wouldn't caucus with Tom DeLay and wouldn't have voted for the Iraq war. But I'd prefer to have a deeper, more balanced view before I send money. Though I wish them well, there are plenty of Democrats that I disagree with enough to keep my money. I don't know whether an effective and informative website could be big tent. But there are probably many Democrats that are safe enough seats, or hopeless enough challengers that I can save my money there, too.
What's your opinion on contributions to candidates out-of-state?
Kos has promised some kind of races-to-support feature in the near future, so that ought to give some guidance. He and I are more of the opinion that having a D in place is the important thing, since the goal for now is to get DeLay and Hastert out of the majority leadership positions. To be honest, I don't think any district that currently has a Republican representative is even remotely likely to elect a true progressive candidate. A moderate centrist is probably the best you'll do in any general election.
Primaries are a different story. Check out a group like Progressive Punch if you want more info on that.
I believe that Congressional elections have been nationalized ever since the 1994 Contract with America, and as such I have no compunctions about supporting a candidate elsewhere. Your mileage may vary, but there's no doubt in my mind that this is the reality and we may as well deal with it.