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Blogs for Election Junkies

A rough guide to political sites in this season of elections, here and in the US.

By Crawford Kilian 3 Sep 2008 | TheTyee.ca

Crawford Kilian intermittently blogs about politics at The View from Seymour.

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Much grist on both sides of border. Cartoon by Ingrid Rice.

[Editor's note: We asked veteran blogger and political observer Crawford Kilian what he surfs to keep up on elections. Please tell us what blogs you visit, in the comments section below.]

The web has become to our time what the press was in the U.S. in the 1830s: anarchic, scurrilous, passionate, often dishonest and absolutely essential.

With three elections facing us this fall -- the U.S. presidential contest, a federal Canadian election, and our own municipal battles -- British Columbians are likely to need information from online sources. But which to choose?

IN CANADA

For Canadian federal sites, start with the parties: the Conservatives, the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens. None are very exciting.

For a quick survey of Canadian politics blogs, start with Opinions Canada, but it doesn't distinguish left and right. The blog title may give you a hint, but otherwise you're on your own.

Among right-wing Canadian bloggers, you can sample Blogging Tories, Proudly Conservative, Small Dead Animals and The Shotgun.

For the Liberals, visit Warren Kinsella, Garth Turner, and Liblogs. New Democrats Online gathers recent posts from NDP blogs.

For a list of bloggers the federal Green Party would like you to read, go to this page of the Greens' website. The Greens don't seem very active online, but start with Blogs about: Green Party and see what you can find.

IN THE UNITED STATES

For the U.S., start with the candidates' websites. Barack Obama's is admired by web geeks for its cool blue look and sleek design. Fundraisers admire it for its ability to extract donations from millions of visitors.

John McCain's is much less attractive, although his pick of Sarah Palin for vice-president provides some eye candy for the site. The overall semi-military look of the site echoes McCain's Navy past, but no chief petty officer on an inspection tour would tolerate the cluttered look of the home page.

Probably the best overall entry into the U.S. blogosphere is Memeorandum, which provides fast-changing links to hot stories and the blogs that comment on them. You can get a quick impression of what the right and left blogs think of a given story, and sometimes you find a site that's worth bookmarking.

Among the liberal bloggers, one of the most resourceful is Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo. It's constantly updated, and includes an "Election Central" page with breaking news and the latest polls. TPM is really more like an online magazine, with several reporters and editors, and plenty of reader contributions.

Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com has been waging a one-man campaign against the Beltway pundits, legal immunity for telecoms, and the incompetence of the American mainstream media. He seems to have access to everything his opponents ever said, and enjoys contrasting what they said in 2002 with what they're saying now.

Steve Benen recently took over Political Animal, and he's already making an impact. More emotional, but equally insightful, is repentant neocon Andrew Sullivan, who pays special attention to gay issues in the campaign.

On the right, the bloggers are really emotional -- perhaps because after seven years of Bush, they don't have many factual arguments left. Michelle Malkin is the queen of the right blogosphere. Hot Air, with blogger Ed Morrissey, provides a good survey of conservative sources. So does The Corner at National Review Online.

For some rugged individualists, visit Confederate Yankee and Macsmind. And for opinions from another dimension, the place to go is No Quarter, which still carries a torch for Hillary Clinton.

Sharpened polls

After all that, take a reality check with a couple of sites that analyze the current polls: The Princeton Election Consortium is poll-wonk heaven, with a daily update on the number of electoral votes each candidate would gain if the election were held today.

Five Thirty Eight projects election outcomes and offers a lot of discussion.

You can even track the presidential futures market at InTrade, where the candidate's "price" is the likelihood of winning the election.

LOCAL TO BC MUNICIPALITIES

For B.C. municipal politics, you may be better off searching for your own local websites. But here are a few:

Vision Vancouver
Andrea Reimer
Non-Partisan Association
North Vancouver Politics
Langley Politics

Wherever you go, from the big American blogs to the most modest of local one-person sites, you'll be struck by the intensity of the feelings, and sometimes by a fact or insight you'd never run across in the mainstream media. Far more than the U.S. election in 2004, and the Canadian election in 2006, blogs will be a factor in the outcomes of this fall's contests.

HEY TYEESTERS! PLEASE POST A COMMENT TELLING US WHAT BLOGS FEED YOUR POLITICAL HABIT WHEN THE ELECTION SEASON HEATS UP.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Elections

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