WASHINGTON (CNN) – Liberal bloggers established online political activism, besting their conservative rivals during President George W. Bush's eight years in office. But conservatives are now finding great success 140 characters at a time. Even this week, the conservative organization Club For Growth promoted their Twitter account on their $1.2 million ad campaign against health care.
Even though President Obama and national Democrats use Twitter – the social micro blog that everyone from Ashton Kutcher and Shaquille O'Neal to Chuck Grassley and Newt Gingrich often use to directly speak to followers – Republicans have embraced the technology. And with major policy issues being debated and the midterm elections right around the corner, liberal bloggers acknowledge the GOP has the upper hand when it comes to using 140 character messages known as "tweets" to influence the discussion.
"While it is obvious the progressive blogosphere is superior, we are being out-organized on Twitter," said Gina Cooper, a blogger who helped organize Netroots Nation, an annual gathering of online liberal activists that met last week in Pittsburgh. "There is some catching up to do on the progressive side."
Tracy Viselli, who attended Netroots Nation, agreed with Cooper and admitted that liberal bloogers are ceding this valuable territory to conservatives.
"Twitter is a news funnel," she said. "Conservatives are very tightly knit and getting their message out very well."
When Republicans were in control of the largest bullhorn in the world – the White House – there was little impetus for conservative activists to exploit a platform to express their views.
"Conservatives have long had this inferiority complex in the online world," said Matt Lewis, a conservative who writes for PoliticsDaily.com. "That is because Republicans have been in power when the blogosphere was invented.
Lewis added, "The ability to effectively utilize the Internet in the political realm works very well for the have-nots. It does not work so well for the establishment."
To that end, Republicans are working overtime to establish a beachhead, online.
"Twitter is the best example of the most modern technology and how folks are organizing," David All, a GOP new media consultant who has helped galvanize the party on Twitter, told CNN. He points to the success of hashtags – a popular way to keep track of a conversation – on Twitter. “#TCOT” (top conservatives on Twitter) has seen much more success on Twitter than “#P2 (progressives 2.0). See stats from Hashtag.org here: TCOT vs P2.
Cooper is quick to defend progressives: “Conservatives are always good at pushing that one concise message. The death panels are easy to tweet. The explanation for why there are no death panels and making that explanation takes much more explanation. You can’t do that on Twitter.”
Erick Erickson, managing editor of the popular conservative Web site RedState.com, said that conservatives' efforts online are important but noted that people should continue to use traditional means to try and influence Congress.
"It is all well and good to be banging on your key board, but if you are not picking up the phone and yelling at your congressman, it does not do you very good," he said.
Despite having an upper hand on Twitter, conservatives still have a ways to go when it comes to catching up to liberals in the blogoshpere. Take for instance last week's competing online conferences in Pittsburgh. Former President Clinton and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett addressed about 1,500 activists attending the Netroots Nation conference. At the same time, approximately 700 conservatives gathered at the RightOnline.com conference to discuss the future of online activism.