According to the Australia Election Survey, the proportion of people looking at political blogs during the election campaign increased nearly fourfold between 2004 and 2007. But large growth from a miniscule base still leaves us with a tiny audience of just 2.7% of the AES sample. YouTube had attracted twice as many people in search of campaign material.
With only 50 political blog readers captured in the AES, it’s too small a sample to analyse blog readers with any confidence. But looking at the characteristics of that 50 there are few surprises.
30% of our 50 had done some work for a party or candidate. Only 25% voted Liberal in 2007 (slightly below the proportion who gave their party ID as Liberal). Many of the others were serious Howard haters, with more than half the sample rating their feelings about John Howard at 1 or 2 on a scale that ran from 1 ‘Strongly dislike’ to 10 ‘Strongly like’. They were more than twice as likely to feel that way about the former PM than the sample as a whole. By contrast, no readers of political blogs seriously disliked Rudd, compared to about 8% of the sample as a whole.
As we would expect, younger AES respondents were well represented among blog readers, with about a quarter born in the 1980s. However, the rest were fairly evenly spread among the decades going back to the 1940s. They were slightly more likely than the general population to have attended a private school.
The only result that did surprise me was that there was gender balance. The political blogosphere, both among bloggers and commenters, seems to me to be a very male place – perhaps even more male dominated than mainstream politics. Maybe there are many female lurkers out there. It would be good to get a large enough survey that we could find out.