The Two Blogospheres: Political Blog Use, Participation, and Sophistication during the 2008 U.S. Election Season


Despite the attention given to political blogs in recent campaigns, scholars have often overlooked something without which they could not thrive: readers. Moreover, literature has considered that readers have generally done so without taking account of significant differences between conservative and liberal blogs. This study uses panel data collected during the 2008 U.S. election to examine how conservative, liberal, and non-blog readers differ. Results show little demographic difference between readers and non-readers. However, blog readers consume political media that is aligned with their blog use. Blog readers participate more in politics than non-readers as a result of their blog use, particularly readers of liberal blogs. Finally, blog readers exhibit greater political sophistication than non-readers, and develop greater political interest as a result of blog reading.

Share and Cite:

Veenstra, A. (2014) The Two Blogospheres: Political Blog Use, Participation, and Sophistication during the 2008 U.S. Election Season. Open Journal of Political Science, 4, 278-290. doi: 10.4236/ojps.2014.44030.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Adamic, L., & Glance, N. (2005). The Political Blogosphere and the 2004 U.S. Election: Divided They Blog: Intelliseek Corporation.
[2] Adams, W. C., & Smith, D. J. (1980). Effects of Telephone Canvassing on Turnout and Preferences: A Field Experiment. Public Opinion Quarterly, 44, 389-395.
[3] Andrews, K., Ganz, M., Baggetta, M., Han, H., & Lim, C. (2010). Leadership, Membership, and Voice: Civic Associations That Work. American Journal of Sociology, 115, 1191-1242.
[4] Bagozzi, R. P., Dholakia, U. M., & Pearo, L. R. K. (2007). Antecedents and Consequences of Online Social Interactions. Media Psychology, 9, 77-114.
[5] Blood, R. (2000). Weblogs: A History and Perspective. Rebecca’s Pocket.
[6] Boehlert, E. (2009). Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press. New York: Free Press.
[7] Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., Miller, W. E., & Stokes, D. E. (1960). The American Voter. New York: Wiley.
[8] Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1975). Applied Multiple Regression/Correlation Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
[9] Converse, P. E. (1964). The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics. In D. E. Apter (Ed.), Ideology and Discontent (pp. 206-261). New York: The Free Press.
[10] Delwiche, A. (2005). Agenda-Setting, Opinion Leadership, and the World of Web Logs. First Monday, 10.
[11] Drezner, D., & Farrell, H. (2008). The Power and Politics of Blogs. Public Choice, 134, 15-30.
[12] Duarte, F., Mattos, B., Bestavros, A., Almeida, V., & Almeida, J. (2007). Traffic Characteristics and Communication Patterns in Blogosphere. International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media.
[13] Eveland Jr., W. P., & Dylko, I. (2007). Reading Political Blogs during the 2004 Election Campaign: Correlates and Political Consequences. In M. Tremayne (Ed.), Blogging, Citizenship, and the Future of Media. New York: Routledge.
[14] Garden, M. (2012). Defining Blog: A Fool’s Errand or a Necessary Undertaking. Journalism, 13, 483-499.
[15] Gil de Zúniga, H. G., Puig-I-Abril, E., & Rojas, H. (2009). Weblogs, Traditional Sources Online and Political Participation: An Assessment of How the Internet Is Changing the Political Environment. New Media & Society, 11, 553-574.
[16] de Zúniga, H. G., Veenstra, A. S., Vraga, E. K., & Shah, D. V. (2010). Digital Democracy: Reimagining Pathways to Political Participation. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 7, 36-51.
[17] Graf, J. (2006). The Audience for Political Blogs. Washington DC: Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet.
[18] Gueorguieva, V. (2008). Voters, MySpace, and YouTube: The Impact of Alternative Communication Channels on the 2006 Election Cycle and Beyond. Social Science Computer Review, 26, 288-300.
[19] Guo, Z., & Moy, P. (1998). Medium or Message? Predicting Dimensions of Political Sophistication. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 10, 25-50.
[20] Hidi, S., & Renninger, K. A. (2006). The Four-Phase Model of Interest Development. Educational Psychologist, 41, 111-127.
[21] Hwang, H., Thorson, K., Borah, P., Cleland, R., & Perlmutter, D. D. (2007). The Blogosphere and Participatory Democracy: The Role of Hostile Media Perception in Blog Users’ News Source Selection and Expressive Participation. Annual Conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
[22] Iyengar, S., & Hahn, K. S. (2009). Red Media, Blue Media: Evidence of Ideological Selectivity in Media Use. Journal of Communication, 59, 19-39.
[23] Iyengar, S., Sood, G., & Lelkes, Y. (2012). Affect, Not Ideology: A Social Identity Perspective on Polarization. Public Opinion Quarterly, 76, 405-431.
[24] Jackman, S., & Vavreck, L. (2009). The Magic of the Battleground: Learning and Uncertainty in the 2008 Presidential Election. Los Angeles, CA: University of California.
[25] Jelen, T. G. (1990). Religious Belief and Attitude Constraint. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 29, 118-125.
[26] Karpf, D. (2012). The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy. New York: Oxford University Press.
[27] Katz, J. L. (1991). The Power of Talk. Governing, 4, 38-42.
[28] Kerbel, M. R., & Bloom, J. D. (2005). Blog for America and Civic Involvement. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 10, 3-27.
[29] Kim, D., & Johnson, T. J. (2012). Political Blog Readers: Predictors of Motivations for Accessing Political Blogs. Telematics and Informatics, 29, 99-109.
[30] Kim, S., & Chung, D. S. (2007). Characteristics of Cancer Blog Users. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 95, 445450.
[31] Lawrence, E., Sides, J., & Farrell, H. (2010). Self-Segregation or Deliberation? Blog Readership, Participation, and Polarization in American Politics. Perspectives on Politics, 8, 141-157.
[32] Lawson-Borders, G., & Kirk, R. (2005). Blogs in Campaign Communication. American Behavioral Scientist, 49, 548-559.
[33] Malkin, M. (2009). Tea Party USA: The Movement Grows.
[34] Nardi, B. A., Schiano, D. J., & Gumbrecht, M. (2004). Blogging as Social Activity, or, Would You Let 900 Million People Read Your Diary? ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work.
[35] Neuman, W. R. (1986). The Paradox of Mass Publics: Knowledge and Opinion in the American Electorate. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
[36] O’Malley, G. (2005). Study: Blog Readers an Elite Minority. Online Media Daily.
[37] Pew (2008). Internet’s Broader Role in Campaign 2008: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
[38] Scardaville, M. C. (2005). Accidental Activists: Fan Activism in the Soap Opera Community. American Behavioral Scientist, 48, 881-901.
[39] Singer, J. B. (2005). The Political J-Blogger, “Normalizing” a New Media Form to Fit Old Norms and Practices. Journalism, 6, 173-198.
[40] Smith, A. (2009). The Internet’s Role in Campaign 2008. Washington DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project.
[41] Smith, M. B., Bruner, J. S., & White, R. W. (1956). Opinions and Personality. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
[42] Su, N. M., Wang, Y., & Mark, G. (2005). Politics as Usual in the Blogosphere. 4th International Workshop on Social Intelligence Design.
[43] Technorati (2010). State of the Blogosphere 2010.
[44] Veenstra, A. S. (2007). Blogger/Reader Interaction: How Motivations Impact Pathways to Political Interest. Annual Conference of the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research.
[45] Veenstra, A. S., Bode, L., Wang, M., Arora, M., Shah, D. V., & Perlmutter, D. D. (2007). Authorship, Intention, and Orientations: How Bloggers and Their Readers Create Participatory Opportunity. Internet Research 8.0., Vancouver.
[46] Veenstra, A. S., Brownfield, K., Howie, A., Liu, X., Luo, J., & Xie, W. (2010). Serving Two Masters: Intersecting Incentives in the Blogosphere. New Media Theory: How Far Have We Traveled? Lubbock, TX.
[47] Veenstra, A. S., Sayre, B., Shah, D. V., & McLeod, D. M. (2008). Frames and Knowledge in Mixed Media: How Activation Changes Information Intake. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11, 443-450.
[48] Wallsten, K. (2005). Political Blogs and the Bloggers Who Blog Them: Is the Political Blogosphere an Echo Chamber? Annual Conference of the American Political Science Association.
[49] Wellman, B., & Gulia, M. (1999). Virtual Communities as Communities: Net Surfers Don’t Ride Alone. In M. A. Smith, & P. Kollock (Eds.), Communities in Cyberspace (pp. 167-194). London: Routledge.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.