We recently took a closer look at the 2006 Senate candidate’s blogs in an attempt to judge the overall quality of blog quality and blog offerings. Here is what we found:

78 percent of the 18 campaign blogs included RSS feeds.

Only 33 percent of blogs included a blogroll or links to other blogs.

78 percent of blogs accepted comments, but only 61% actually published these comments.  In addition, many blogs appeared to only show positive user comments. Jon Tester’s “Testertime” is an example of this. testertime logoTom Kean’s blog was an exception, where arguments over issues actually developed in the comments section. Either most candidates’ blogs are only attracting supporters, or blog managers are filtering user comments and only posting positive input.

In 56 percent of the blogs, the candidates themselves posted blog entries. When candidates posted entries, it really gave the blogs a personal touch, giving the candidates a “down to earth” quality that would be attractive to voters. Claire McCaskill used this technique particularly well.

Many of the candidates’ blogs were well-maintained and sophisticated. However, it was disappointing to find that interactive features of the blogs were limited. With just over half of the blogs publishing user comments, it is questionable whether some candidates blogs can really be considered blogs at all. This is another example of our main findings from our political campaign study: candidates are still underutilizing Web tools, and many are hesitant to open their campaigns to interactive strategies. It seems that most candidates are more comfortable with traditional forms of campaigning; the transition to “cyber-campaigns” will indeed be a gradual one.

Update: For those interested, you can see the Excel sheet with the backing data here (Excel sheet). Note that Pete Ashdown got credit in our study for having every blog element that we looked at. We edited the entry to reflect Ashdown’s policy of posting un-censored blog comments.