Okay...I don't know how important this is-probably not much-but it's interesting nonetheless. I don't know if you guys heard about this but I've been following the blogs religiously the past couple of days, and started reading stories just yesterday about "robocalls" that the NRCC is paying for, where they call people with a canned message that sounds like it's from the Democratic candidate, which then goes on to say ridiculous things and the only at the end is the call identified as being from the NRCC. Apparently this is a violation of federal election law, and apparently the purpose of these calls is to get the recipients of them (who are identified in advance as supporters of the Democratic candidate) to get so irritated with the calls (which they are apparently getting repeatedly) that they will get pissed off at the Democrat who they think the call is coming from and not turn out and vote. So anyway, even from last night it's spread to 20 different Congressional districts (so I read on one blog) and thanks largely to the efforts of various bloggers and those emailing on their behalf (myself included) it's now being covered on CNN, and may get more coverage. So first of all, this is interesting because it's clearly an effort of the Republicans to spread misinformation and harass voters into not voting. It's also been interesting to watch the robocall story spread from one blog to another, as the calls spread from one district to another. It's also interesting to see the story of the phenomenon develop as a result of people emailing bloggers, bloggers updating their blogs, and bloggers haranguing the media for not covering the story in detail yet...and then to see the media respond by covering it. It's just interesting real and internet phenomenon wrapped up together, which is why I'm writing about it. But like I said, I'm not sure it's that big of a deal (at least for me, as I've come to expect Republican efforts to suppress votes.)
Well, that was last night and this morning I'm pretty sure it's a big deal. And I still think it's interesting to "watch" the development of real-time events via blogs. Robo-calls spread, bloggers start to cover it, bloggers start to implore the media to cover it, media than covers it, and Democratic party officials and lawyers respond with threats to sue or have charges filed. This is all essentially in the span of 24-36 hours, which is pretty damn impressive.
Also in general I think it's a good example of the influence bloggers are exercising on this election. I'm usually pretty dismissive of bloggers puffing up the influence of their blogs (no you can't change the world from your parent's basement...usually) but I think this is a little different. In general, many, many blogs are making a coordinated and deliberate effort to track and document shenanigans at the polls. Just this morning I've seen far more posts than I can count by bloggers responding to people who have called/emailed them with complaints about voting machines, ignorant polling officials, closed polls, long lines, and dirty tricks designed to keep Democratic voters away from the polls. I don't think it's going out a limb to say that this is probably the most closely watched election in history. Additionally, I think Republicans will be surprised that some of these dirty tricks which they could get away with in the past because they could not be substantiated or the stories were merely anecdotal, will be recorded in great detail by liberal and Democratic bloggers will be more than eager to turn their collected information over to Democratic party lawyers, or law enforcement officials.
Anyway, if you want to keep track of all this as it develops, I recommend several blogs: Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo (and the related TPM Muckraker and TPM Cafe); Truth Serum Blog on some Texas shenanigans; American Prospect's TAPPED and Crooks and Liars.