The thought was that the Blogosphere is now an important tool for the sophisticated and accurate measurement of important public opinion and is potentially much more valuable in this regard than traditional polling.
I have neither education nor experience in statistics or public opinion sampling techniques. What follows has only the Yogi Berra stamp of approval, "You can see a lot just by looking".
Any practitioner of the art of Political Science who followed Yogi's first law of observation would have seen the following phenomena after the nomination of Harriet Miers:
- An immediate and nearly simultaneous expression of disappointment and outrage from a plethora of influential bloggers who have made their bones since September 11, 2001 as fervent supporters (albeit not uncritically so) of George W. Bush. This was either orchestrated by some hitherto unseen diabolical hand or was genuine and sincere.
- An expression of caution from a smaller coterie of similarly supportive bloggers and commenters on the above-mentioned outraged bloggers' sites, urging the outraged to keep their powder dry and give the nominee a chance.
- Two (count em, that is two) bloggers of stature with unblemished Bush-supporting credentials, to wit, viz Hewitt and Beldar, who valiantly and positively supported the nominee.
This state of affairs did not change during the several week period between nomination and withdrawal as more and more information surfaced on the heretofore somewhat obscure nominee.
Anyone having a familiarity with the personalities, geographic distribution, political leanings, age, and gender of the bloggers in question had information on a very interesting segment of the population: Those who take time to read about current affairs and articulate their reactions to what they read about them. Generally a cross section of opinion leaders throughout the country.
This is far more information than gleaned from reading leading Washington Pundits and even local editors. One sees variations on themes in the blogosphere, not lock step letters to senators written by lobbyists and their P.R. firms.
You get grass roots exchanges of views if you want to look for them. And you can evaluate them qualitatively as well as quantitatively. No push polling and no other shenanigans by the pollsters.
Pretty valuable information it seems to me.