Thursday, April 03, 2008
Primary is not just destroying Progressive Radio But Progressive Blogs Too
now the Big 2 Blogs are hitting the tank:
A review of monthly traffic on 5 major progressive blogs (2 pro-Obama, one neutral, 2 pro-Clinton) reveals some interesting statistics. Beyond mere stats, though, lies a story - are the blogs that lean strongly toward one candidate or the other hurting themselves - and in the process, Democratic Party chances in November?
As readers of progressive blogs are painfully aware, the Democratic Party candidate wars have become acrimonious and in some cases, very personal. I was a long time reader (and contributor) to Daily Kos, but recently bid farewell to "big orange". Why? As a relatively non-aligned member of the DKos community, I no longer felt welcomed on the site. The evening of March 4th was pretty much the kicker for me. Venom was spewing, stupid declarations were being made, and it was clear that an online civil war had been joined.
I noticed the same basic trend on a few other sites that are (or were) on my daily reading list. If comments were made that could be perceived as pro-Clinton or anti-Obama, the swarm descended. Rationality seems to have taken a back seat to ad hominem attacks - and not just at the hands of the community members - but the actual proprietors of the blogs. It's clear that certain blogmasters have taken up sides in the candidate wars. But probably more than just taking up sides, many of these blogs have actively gone super negative, rather than simply favoring one candidate over the other.
"Ok, so what?", you might wonder. Apropos of nothing, I decided to take a peek at the site traffic stats for five "A-List" progressive blogs. I have some degree of familiarity with each of them, having participated in the communities either in the past or currently. The choices of blogs and the reviews that follow are completely subjective on my part. Two of the sites are pro-Obama, two are pro-Clinton, and one could be considered "neutral".
A quick review of the graphics below tell a surprising tale: traffic is down significantly on the pro-Obama sites (30% or more over the past month), but about level on the pro-Clinton and "neutral" sites. What does this mean? I have no friggin' idea. But the trends are clear and appear to be statistically significant. Let's take a look:
AmericaBlog (leans Obama): As the candidate wars have escalated, AmericaBlog has experienced a 40% drop in peak weekly traffic over the past 30 days. From a pure statistical standpoint, both the traffic peaks and valleys are both lower, and consistently so. That's what's significant: the straight-line progression (and angle) of the downward slope.
Daily Kos (leans Obama): In one month alone, DKos shed nearly 1/2 million unique visitors (on peak traffic days) between the beginning of March and April's Fool day. Statistically, the 30% drop on DKos is not as significant as the 40% on AmericaBlog, but the sheer numbers tell the story - and again, the straight-line progression of the traffic decline is notable.
Atrios' Eschaton (neutral): I'll give Atrios this: he's managed to build a nice little empire, and a heck of a stable (traffic-wise) community. Eschaton has taken pains to maintain site neutrality in the candidate wars, even if the community members seem to lean more Obama (but not rabidly so, as is the case on DKos and AmericaBlog). As a result, Eschaton has been able to maintain a relatively flat slope on traffic gains or losses.
Talk Left (leans Clinton): If the Obama-leaning sites have driven off Clinton supporters to other sites, the defection isn't particularly apparent on the two blogs reviewed that lean toward Clinton. There hasn't been a significant increase in traffic at Talk Left - but there hasn't been a decrease, either. Like Eschaton, Talk Left apparently has a community that is more vested in the blog itself and less in a particular candidate, and as a result, traffic has been relatively stable over the past 30 days.
MyDD (leans Clinton): Again, for a self-identified pro-Clinton blog, the traffic at MyDD has remained fairly static at the height of the candidate wars. It's hard to say if this is because defecting Obama supporters are being offset by an influx of disaffected Clinton backers from other blogs, or if the traffic patterns on MyDD are just "mature", due to the longevity of the blog.
The lessons for political blogmasters? I'm not sure that there are any. What's clear is that the overt political partitioning of the two pro-Obama blogs (DKos and AmericaBlog) has resulted in a demonstrably negative short term impact on site traffic at both blogs. Does this mean that some type of power shift is taking place in the progressive blogosphere? I doubt it, but there are certainly some emerging trends that are worth watching.
The bottom line: it would appear that a progressive blogmaster who makes a tactical decision to overtly support Obama is taking both some short and long term risk. The neutral and Clinton-leaning blogs will probably retain their hard core base over the long term. But these things go in cycles, so who knows?
posted at : All Spin Zone
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