Demographics of Democratic Blog Activists
by Chris Bowers, Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 07:04:25 AM EDT
Before going over the results, the first caveat I would like to note is that this is not a scientific survey of blog readers with random probability. It is, instead, a self-selecting survey that heavily over-samples the most active readers of political blogs. The simple fact that someone had to take an action suggested over a blog in order to fill out this survey is demonstrative of the slant of the survey. Question #19 in the survey also shows what segment of the audience is being over-sampled. While the commenting segment of the progressive blog readership is probably best estimated at only 10% (or less) or the total readership, 55.5% of the people who filled out this survey indicate that they leave comments on blogs.
The second caveat I would note is that the results for "Democrats" are probably the most reliable section of the political blog surveys. Nearly the entire universe of progressive blog readers visit progressive blogs that use Blogads as their primary advertising service. With the advent of Pajama's media, that is not the case for Republican-leaning blogs anymore.
Even with those two caveats in mind, this survey does provide useful insight into the most active segment of the audience of the progressive blogosphere. Since this is the segment of the audience of the progressive blogosphere that is consistently of the most interest to the established news media and to the national political ecosystem, to information found in this survey is very useful indeed. While I anticipate that the time in the future we will eventually have more accurate and scientifically acceptable polling information on this new universe, in the interim period this survey strongly suggests just how very wrong most existing stereotypes about the progressive blogosphere really are, and how valuable this readership is to the progressive ecosystem as a whole. The results can be found in the extended entry.
Median Age: 46.4 (40.4)
The median age in the survey increased dramatically from 2005. This may seem impossible, but when one considers that just over 40% of the people who responded to the survey began blogging in 2005 or later, perhaps it is not impossible at all. Either way, a median age of 46.4 does serious damage to the "teenger" myth about blog readers so often bandied about. Democratic blog readers are neither young nor naïve. In fact, with a median age of 46.4 years, Democratic blog activists are quite representative of the national population as a whole.
Education: (no trends from 2005)
Post-Graduate Degree: 41.1%
College Graduate: 38.5%
Some College: 17.63%
High Scholl or less: 2.83%
Outside of academic journals, Democratic blogs almost certainly have the most highly educated audience of any news and opinion medium in the country. This is quite a contrast to the "naïve" stereotype about progressive bloggers. I would take a random sampling of progressive blog readers, with the points, against a random sampling of readers of any established news outlet in any intellectual challenge you can name. Progressive blog readers are very smart, and very highly educated.
Median Annual Income: $80.2K ($77.3K)
Democratic political blog readers are well-off. In fact, they seem to make more money than I do (and I am not struggling these days). The wealth of the Democratic political blog readership is certainly one of the reasons that many people in the political establishment see $$$ in their eyes when the netroots come up. However, it is also one of the reasons that organizations such as the DNC are now pretty much bought and paid for by the netroots. The McCain-Feingold ban on soft money shifted the donor base of the DNC away from millionaires and toward the upper-middle class. You know, all those fucking hippies making $80K a year.
Gender: 66.1% male, 33.9% female (69.0% male, 31.0% female)
While the gap closed somewhat during 2005, the activist segment of the Democratic political blogosphere is, unfortunately, still something a sausage party. I remain hopeful the gap will continue to shrink as time moves forward, but our ongoing tolerance of sexist language, the male dominated legacy of the technology and political sectors, and other factors continue to contribute this imbalance. I should note that in 2005, the imbalance was actually even worse on the conservative side of the aisle.
Signed a petition: 82.9% (79.9%)
Contributed to a cause/campaign: 79% (78%)
Written or called any politician: 79.9% (72.8%)
Written a letter to the editor: 47.0% (44.4%)
Attended a political rally, speech, or organized protest: 46.3% (55.3%)
Active member of any group that tries to influence public policy: 37.4% (38.5%)
Attended a public meeting on town or school affairs: 37.3% (35.0%)
These numbers speak for themselves. Active political blog readers are also political activists. No political neophytes here.
Democratic political blog readers are voracious consumers of all media. Word of mouth, television, radio, newspapers (both online and offline), magazines (both online and offline) and blogs all registered between 10 and 20% of the average total media consumption. This should not be a surprise either. People who seek out political blogs, which are not easy to find since they have no marketing budget or central portal, must inherently be people who are voracious consumers of media. Democratic blog readers seem to consumer every media available, indicated that they must be very engaged in current events.
Active readers of Democratic political blogs are very highly educated, highly politically active, quite well-to-do, voracious consumers of media, not very young, and skew male. Apart from the male part, these indicators fly in the face of stereotypes about progressive bloggers, who are supposedly drooling, rabid, anti-social, uneducated, teenage extremists with no political value and out of touch with current events. Quite to the contrary, active blog readers have a tremendous amount of political capital to spend, and are in search of adventurous progressive politicians and organizations to spend it on. Is there any major progressive political group in the country that would not want to appeal to the demographics of this readership? High concentrations of wealthy, highly educated, highly active media junkies cannot be found in many areas in either this or any other country. Mischaracterize and misjudge them at your own peril.