The Netroots Narrative: The Evolution of Liberal Candidates from 2004 to the Present

Posted: 2 Sep 2009

See all articles by Diana Tracy Cohen

Diana Tracy Cohen

Central Connecticut State University

Date Written: August 31, 2009


Approximately twelve years after its debut in political campaigns, many still question the implications of the Internet on social capital. Despite the proliferation of unique political communication and interactivity dubbed “Web 2.0”, cyber-pessimists fear that the Internet inhibits the growth of meaningful face-to-face interactions. Based various case studies present in the evolution of the liberal blogosphere from 2004 through 2008, this paper argues that the Internet can and does lead to meaningful social capital and offline social networking. It describes the Web as an agent of social change for the Democratic Party, and identifies social capital as an important part of the party’s digital timeline. Drawing on seventeen in-depth interviews with campaign staff members and volunteers participating in the Howard Dean, Ned Lamont and Barack Obama campaigns, as well as Republican bloggers, this work illuminates how the intersection of offline and online social networking has become a hallmark of Democratic Party digital strategy.

Keywords: Internet politics, campaigns and elections

JEL Classification: 030

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Diana Tracy, The Netroots Narrative: The Evolution of Liberal Candidates from 2004 to the Present (August 31, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Diana Tracy Cohen (Contact Author)

Central Connecticut State University ( email )

1615 Stanley Street
New Britian, CT 06050
United States
860-832-2962 (Phone)

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