Not at the national level, anyway. This has always been a hobbyhorse of mine but it’s one thing for a righty blogger to admit it and quite another for a lefty, with the vaunted netroots fundraising machine to tout, to do so. Our favorite liberal has always insisted that the power of left-wing blogs was overstated and that that would become clearer the closer we got to the election. KP 1, AP 0:
[T]he real lesson of the 2008 primaries is to raise some serious doubts about the power of the blogosphere in particular and the netroots more generally. On the Republican side, I’d venture that John McCain was the least favorite of the major candidates by a pretty fair margin. But he won anyway. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was the least favorite of the majors but she’s one of the last two standing. And although Barack Obama is a netroots darling now, it’s worth remembering that his initial foray on Daily Kos didn’t endear him to the blogosphere in the beginning. His message of bipartisan reconciliation was about the farthest thing imaginable from the “fighting Dem” spirit of the blogosphere and he took plenty of hits for it. He’s only popular now by default: virtually the entire netroots loathes Hillary Clinton, which means Obama is the only choice they have left.
If the respective left and right blogospheres had any real say in things, would we be looking at a McCain vs. Obama contest in November? Or McCain vs. Hillary? We would not. It would be Giuliani vs. Edwards, or maybe Romney vs. Dodd. [Actually, it’d be Fred Thompson, but point taken. — ed.] The blogosphere is good at raising modest sums of money, and it likewise plays a modest role at the congressional level, but its influence on the national stage appears to be pretty close to nil.
For further grudging admissions in this vein, see Chris Bowers at Open Left. The counterargument I always get when the subject of blog impotence comes up is the amnesty debacle last summer, but who really torpedoed that — blogs, or conservative talk radio? Their audience is hundreds of times the size of ours. It may be true that their most devoted listeners substantially overlap with blog readership, if you assume that some people want/need a daily political fix and can’t get enough from Rush et al., but then the question simply becomes: Would those same people have been as animated in objecting to the immigration bill if they had to rely “only” on Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham and so forth to get them fired up? I’m guessing: yes.
The more interesting question is what the election says about talk radio’s power, not ours. Medved had some interesting theories about that as Captain Amnesty was locking up the nomination. We’ll see how Operation Chaos does in Indiana in a few hours.