The voice from the base(ment): Stridency, referential structure, and partisan conformity in the political blogosphere

Elizabeth Anne Roodhouse


The Internet has become a critical medium for American politics: in 2008, almost half of American adults looked for political information online, and 30 percent of Internet uses contributed to online political discussions. Using the candidacy of Sarah Palin as a case study of a provocative political event, this paper examines the tone, partisan leanings, and referential structure of six elite blogs. First by randomly sampling overall trends of Palin coverage and then by performing a quantitative content analysis of a sub-sample of posts, this paper finds that the valence and stridency of blog posts vary by partisan identification, and that stridency dramatically affects the referential structure of posts. Although the referential structure of blog posts varies significantly by blog, it does not vary along partisan lines. Nonetheless, the relationship between stridency and partisan conformity exposed by this paper illustrates a trend amongst conservative blogs to repeat the allegations of “liberal media bias” often voiced by traditional conservative media outlets, contributing to an “echo chamber” effect in the blogosphere.


Blogosphere; Bloggers; Sarah Palin; Echo chamber; U.S. politics

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