This past August, the Sorensen Institute at the University of Virginia hosted what was likely the first conference of political bloggers from a single state. By November, Virginia bloggers were so prominent that they were quoted in newspapers, appeared at political forums and, in this scathing letter from Kilgore campaign manager Ken Hutcheson, blamed for election losses. State political bloggers are not like national bloggers because most of them are not just news junkies or would-be pundit, but also activists, party leaders and even elected officials as well. As such, they come into the blogosphere with some well-defined goals in mind, and don’t see a problem with using their blog to achieve that goal. Already, Tennessee bloggers are using their blog to serve as a rapid-response unit and sniping team for their candidate of choice, something that will only get worse over time.
The lesson to candidates and journalists? Keep an eye on bloggers, and maybe even reach out to them as the campaign season goes forward. You’ll likely find that they make great sources, and could, like they were in Virginia, prove to be an important factor in the race.