The Political Blogosphere and the 2004 U.S. Election:Divided They Blog
Lada A. Adamic
HP Labs1501 Page Mill Road Palo Alto, CA 94304
Intelliseek Applied Research Center5001 Baum Blvd. Pittsburgh, PA 15217
In this paper, we study the linking patterns and discussiontopics of political bloggers. Our aim is to measure the degreeof interaction between liberal and conservative blogs, and touncover any diﬀerences in the structure of the two commu-nities. Speciﬁcally, we analyze the posts of 40 “A-list” blogsover the period of two months preceding the U.S. Presiden-tial Election of 2004, to study how often they referred toone another and to quantify the overlap in the topics theydiscussed, both within the liberal and conservative commu-nities, and also across communities. We also study a singleday snapshot of over 1,000 political blogs. This snapshotcaptures blogrolls (the list of links to other blogs frequentlyfound in sidebars), and presents a more static picture of abroader blogosphere. Most signiﬁcantly, we ﬁnd diﬀerencesin the behavior of liberal and conservative blogs, with con-servative blogs linking to each other more frequently and ina denser pattern.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
]: [Data Mining]; J.4 [
Socialand Behavioral Sciences
]: [Sociology]; G.2.2 [
]: [Network Problems]
political blogs, social networks, link analysis
The 2004 U.S. Presidential Election was the ﬁrst presiden-tial election in the United States in which blogging playedan important role. Although the term weblog was coined in1997, it was not until after 9/11 that blogs gained readershipand inﬂuence in the U.S. According to a report from the PewInternet & American Life Project
, by January 2005 one in
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four internet users in the U.S. read weblogs, but 62% of themstill did not know what a weblog was. During the presiden-tial election campaign many Americans turned to the Inter-net to stay informed about politics, with 9% of Internet userssaying that they read political blogs “frequently” or “some-times”
. Indeed, political blogs showed a large growth inreadership in the months preceding the election.
Recognizing the importance of blogs, several candidatesand political parties set up weblogs during the 2004 U.S.Presidential campaign. Notably, Howard Dean’s campaignwas particularly successful in harnessing grassroots supportusing a weblog as a primary mode for publishing dispatchesfrom the candidate to his followers. The Democratic andRepublican parties further signaled the established positionof blogs in political discourse by credentialing a number of bloggers to cover their nominating conventions as journal-ists. This lead to the creation of sites to aggregate the con-tent of these blogs during the national conventions:
for the RNC,
for the DNC
. Other sites adapted to keep track of anever proliferating mass of political blogs by creating spe-cialized political blog search engines, aggregate feeds andsearch analytics, including Feedster (
), BlogPulse (
) and Technorati(
).Weblogs may be read by only a minority of Americans,but their inﬂuence extends beyond their readership throughtheir interaction with national mainstream media. Dur-ing the months preceding the election, there were severalcases in which political blogs served to complement main-stream media by either breaking stories ﬁrst or by fact-checking news stories. For example, bloggers ﬁrst linkedto Swiftvets.com’s anti-Kerry video in late July and keptthe accusations alive, until late August, when John Kerryresponded to their claims, bringing mainstream media cov-erage.
In another example, bloggers questioned CBS News’credibility over the memos purportedly alleging preferentialtreatment toward President Bush during the Vietnam War.Powerline broke the story on September 9th
, launching aﬂurry of discussions across political blogs and beyond. DanRather apologized later in the month.