In reality, it is hard to measure the precise impact of bloggers on such events. But the idea of an insurgent grass-roots movement, energised by folk tapping away at their computers, appeals to the romantic, anti-elitist strain in US politics. Many politicians in America and elsewhere clearly feel the need to pay their respects to the blogosphere – if only as a precaution.
It is not self-evident, however, that the blogosphere’s influence on politics is all for the good. A political consultant once complained that his bosses’ reliance on focus groups handed power to people who were prepared to sit around for hours talking about politics with strangers, in return for a free sandwich. Similarly if politics is increasingly shaped by the blogosphere, it will mean more power and influence for a sub-section of the population willing to waste hours trawling through dross on the internet.