Well, the election’s over. Bush won handily, when you consider how close things were, and his gains over 2000. So why is that? The pundits talk of the Ground War, and President Bush’s appeal to the conservative right. But I don’t think that explains it. Now, I’m going to put all partisan feelings aside, here, and propose a theory: Internet Power.
It’s been a rocky four years for the President. Ignoring all that came before 9/11/2001, he’s still had to grapple with a floundering economy, massive job losses (the worst since Hoover, actually) and a war in Iraq. The Democrats had a LOT of ammunition, and they used it. In every debate, Senator Kerry blasted President Bush. In the closing weeks of the campaign the Bush camp had even more problems: Bad job reports and lost explosives in Iraq seemed to take the wind out of their sails. And the traditional media focused on every alleged gaffe, too.
But the President still won a second term.
He won because the traditional media no longer holds sway over the party faithful or those considering jumping ship. If I’m a Republican, considering moving to Kerry because of, say, Iraq, I can visit dozens of conservative blogs and news sites that explain things in terms that I find comfortable. Sure, I can also visit lots of liberal blogs that say the opposite, but those blogs will likely be couched in angry, anti-Bush terms that I find, well, uncomfortable.
Today the media is saying that the ‘moral issue’ controlled the election. But Bush had to stake his territory as the moral candidate. And he had to defeat all attempts to divert attention to Iraq or the economy. In the end, Republican bloggers had a riposte for every Democratic accusation, in spite of an intense media focus on the war and job losses.
Democrat bloggers had their moments in the sun, too. But with traditional media focusing on those same issues, their ability to affect change was blunted (I am not proposing a liberal media bias, here – how many stories did you see about moral issues during this campaign?).
Internet Power ruled the day. Future candidates would be well-advised to take note…