Marc Ambinder writes, in response to Matt Yglesias, that Hillary Clinton is "not doomed! Yet!" and discusses her relationship with the blogosphere. The fundamental question is "does Hillary’s failure to catch on in the lefty blogosphere mean that she is doomed."
Marc describes one way of answering the question:
In the sense that the blogosphere is a self-contained constituency, and it is, even if its range spans across several other identity groups, one would need to demonstrate not only that Demcorats read blogs, or that blog-readers vote, but that blog-readers are somehow more accurately aligned with actual primary voters than other constituencies.
In other words, Marc argues, are blogs representative of the party as a whole, or are they merely a faction of a highly factionalized party? I am constantly reminded when I read lefty blogs that they seem socio-economically-located (more wealthy, more white, etc. than Democratic coalition) I was reminded of this again in Harold Meyerson column in today’s WaPo:
For the Democrats, the contest is settling into a pattern set four decades ago: primary-season class conflict, in which one candidate appeals to a younger and more upscale electorate by talking about political reform and other chiefly noneconomic concerns, while another emphasizes pocketbook issues to the party’s working-class voters. In primaries past, the upscale-reformer role has been embraced by Eugene McCarthy, Morris Udall, Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas, Bill Bradley and Howard Dean, while the part of the more populist bread-and-butter battler has been played by Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Richard Gephardt and John Edwards, among others. This year’s upscale reformer, as Ronald Brownstein keenly noted in his Los Angeles Times column last month, is Barack Obama.
I would add a biographical point about Obama. He was elected to a black state Senate seat in Chicago with most of his energy coming from students at the University of Chicago, my alma mater. His biography and district (Hyde Park, the University’s neighborhood, is an upper-middle class black neighborhood into which a 12,000 student university has been inserted) allowed him to reach into two dissimilar parts of the Democratic coalition. In some sense, Obama is more of a Paul Wellstone than a Mondale or Humphrey.
I suspect that the blogs are less important in the sense that they represent voters and more in the sense that they, as Marc notes, have come to dominate opinion formation in the party, an undeniably elite project:
It seems to me that a more satisfying and ultimately more precise way to describe the power of the Democratic blogosphere is to characterize them as the "leading edge" of base opinion. In the same way, national presidential preference polls, which Hillary still tops, are trailing indicators.
I would make the broader point that the rise of the blogs is contributing to the strength of the upscale reformers in the Democratic party apparatus, already in many ways dominant. Howard Dean, the upper-class pro-NRA, pro-deficit reduction, candidate for President rode them to the DNC Chair. And the media, especially the national elite media, shares socio-economic roots with the blogs and this wing of the Democratic party. No wonder they are the media phenomenon. That’s almost the entire echo-chamber of the left.
Note that, in many ways, the mainstream righty blogs have a similar structure and socio-economic relationship with the media. Hugh Hewitt is a Harvard educated law professor. Glenn Reynolds is a Yale educated law professor.
Back to the original point about Clinton. Bill Clinton was clearly an ally of the reformers in many ways, but he was much more "with but not of" the reformers but "of but not with" the class-warriors. Bill Clinton is also not on either of Meyerson’s lists. Neither is Hillary. What to make of that?