The New Hampshire primary is over a year away, and the first major candidate has yet to formally declare. Just don’t tell that to outlets like Politico, Talking Points Memo and RealClearPolitics, which are already planning to smother the 2012 campaign trail in a way they could never have imagined four years ago when they had far smaller staffs of bloggers and shoestring budgets.
With an eye toward earning greater respectability, this crop of political Web sites is hoping for more than just page views and traffic-driving links from the Drudge Report. They want to establish themselves as the Blogs on the Bus.
“We were a garage band in 2008, riffing on the fly,” said Jim VandeHei, Politico’s executive editor and co-founder. “Now we’re a 200-person production, with a precise feel and plan.”
Politico will host, with NBC News and Telemundo, the first debate of the campaign season on May 2, getting a head start on a season of face-offs that is already remarkably busy. (Politico edged ahead of Fox News, which scheduled a debate for May 5.)
Politico has nearly tripled its staff since 2008, when it was already a formidable if somewhat overextended presence on the campaign trail.
It will start a Web site, 2012 Live, this weekend that will serve as a home for what Mr. VandeHei described as “tons and tons of stories” in addition to the kind of minutiae that Politico believes political enthusiasts can never get enough of — politicians’ daily schedules, county-by-county demographic data in key primary states and historical voting trends.
2012 Live is up at http://www.politico.com/2012-election -- including course alum Andy Barr.