August 21st, 2009
12:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Liberal bloggers admit conservatives have upper hand on Twitter

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Which party has the upper hand on Twitter?"]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 "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 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, 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 conference to discuss the future of online activism.

Filed under: Social Networking • Twitter
soundoff (272 Responses)
  1. William

    Twitter is perfect for Republicans. At 140 characters there's no room for facts, anyway, so they won't be expect to back anything up. On the other hand, you can tell lies very easily with 140 characters... and that's all they ever do, anyway.

    August 21, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. GunnyG

    I love reading the liberal posts! You can catch the undercurrent of FEAR as their boy goes under! haha.

    DNC = SS titanic.

    August 21, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. laura from willis

    It is so obvious, that all the Liberals have figured it out very quickly. GOP cannot think past 140 words. We saw this for 8 years, with their "fearless????" Leader. He had trouble putting 3 words together.

    Kudos, fellow Liberals.

    GOP is worthy of the "DUH" award.

    August 21, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. Afghan Whig

    I dunno. Looking at the comments so far, it looks like progressives are just as good at spreading ignorance and hate in less than 140 characters as any conservative. Grow up.

    August 21, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. El Pinche

    Conservatards also dominate AOL , so what?
    I knew Twitter jumped the shark when my 65 yr wingnutty dad joined it.

    August 21, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Jon

    The reason that Conservatives are better at the short message is that they have always practiced getting directly to the point. Meanwhile the liberals desperately need the extra words to practice their stock in trade of...

    "If you cannot dazzle them with brilliance (liberals have always been short on brilliance), baffle them with bulls#!+! (BS being the liberal standard)"

    August 21, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. carlo

    I could give a tinker's butt about Twitter. I like reading complete sentences. I don't even have a Twitter account. I think the GOP has an upper hand because it allows them to write short sentences. Talking points are easier to get in that way.

    August 21, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. Mississippi Mike

    Blah, blah, blah. Remember how the liberal bloggers got all over John McCain's case because he couldn't type and made it sound like he was an out-of-touch old fogie? It was because his injuries as a POW made it so he couldn't use the keyboard. Now those same smirky geeks are getting blown away by a bunch of politicians who are interested in actually *gasp* keeping their constituents informed. Maybe Democrats should keep their constituents in the loop so they don't get shouted down by angry, ignored mobs when they finally do show their faces.

    August 21, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. yugan

    liberal bloggers?? did i read the article right? isn't it just ONE liberal blogger? they couldn't get even 1 of the A list bloggers to support this theory? 1 unknown liberal blogger says something and its news??? in cnn ticker...c'mon guys thats so 2004...

    August 21, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. Simp

    Who in the heck cares? So what the idiots can twitter while the liberals are trying to fix this mess W got us in. This is the dumbest thing to report. Good grief!!!!

    August 21, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. John

    Progressive? What is that?

    You guys are all BOZO.

    Progressive means Liberal but they are ashamed to call themselves that.

    Liberalism is a mental disorder.

    August 21, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. gagrules

    jjj says "typical" democrat doesnt have money for cable? huh?? well... is the internet free in most democratic areas? if it is not free... then i guess i am missing the logic of that statement ... i bet if you took a poll, dems spend much more time watching television and/or blogging... just being honest...

    August 21, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. Peter

    Even if they use Twitter or whatever! the Republican Party is dead!!! and if they ever win the presidency expect 2 or other 3 more wars manufactured through lies to further cheney and his cronies ideology!. They had all the time for domestic policies yet all their minds were on Iraq war or was it for oil? which is now going with the Chinese?. They can give answers to the public of all the wrong things they committed against human kind using twitter!!! but I'm still waiting for anything constructive to come from their side!

    August 21, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. Dennis

    Consevatives–not Republicans have the upper hand on Twitter. The difference? We can spell 'potato.'

    August 21, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. jimfolks

    To bad we can't just all be Americans. What a great country this use to be. FYI the conservatives have always been the kings of alternate media the libs own MSM. Why not have all these resources go back to journalism and get away from editorialism.

    August 21, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. J.P.

    "There is some catching up to do on the progressive side."

    Look, the hippies think anyone to the right of Karl Marx or Joseph Stalin is a "right wing nutjob crazy illiterate."

    So what does it say about you and your "progressive policy ideas, when these simple "yokels and bumpkins" are running rings around you?

    Exactly how "progressive" can you possibly be when these "teabaggers" (as you deride them) are eating your lunch?

    Could it have something to do with the fact that "this ain't our first rodeo?" We're simply not buying the BS you're selling, regardless of the neato new technology you're using to sell it. Life experience shows if something sounds too good to be true (deficit-neutral utopian healthcare "reform"), it usually is.

    August 21, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. AZDuffman

    Liberals can't talk in "Tweets?"

    "Hate Talk"
    "Fox News Sucks"
    "Election was stolen"

    That is all they say anyways. The rest is just their repeating it over and over.

    Newt/Palin in 2012!

    August 21, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Ramblingman

    Typical responses. Attack and use the old politics of personal destruction page. Plus, don't forget to foment some wealth envy.

    What I find funniest are the responses that try to say conservatives are best at condensing ideas to sound bites, totally disregarding the known fact that it's liberals who for decades have had the upper hand at that because it's so much easier to attack an idea with emotion and only use a few words or a slogan, while explaining logic and ideas always takes more time.

    Let's see, was it conservatives who came up with, What do we want? (fill in the blank with the protest of the week) When do we want it? Now!

    August 21, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Steve

    Obama does not have any influence on Twitter because with all of his "uh" and "um's" he would hit the character limit before he could even begin to make his point (if he actually had a point to make, and no, George Bush=bad does not an intelligent argument make).

    August 21, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Joe

    Because Conservatives don't need to read a 3 page blog from someone who has nothing better to do than to get money from George Soros to type pages of bullcrap for a living! We also don't need a long email from party leadership on what's wrong with Obamacare! We know what's wrong, we know that the democrats don't even read their bills, they admit it, and are appalled that we expect them too; what we want is to know that our Leader's don't have their heads up their arse, and that is able to easily be proved in 140 characters or less! Progressive = fail

    August 21, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. mike

    Conservatives only have time to tweet because they have jobs to get back to.

    August 21, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Randy

    Seems so funny to constantly see liberals call the conservatives names. And they say we are the intolerant ones. You liberals who are always commenting online show your true colors. Lots of hate and intolerance for the position of others. Its your way or the highway. Wait, you blasted Bush for that same approach. Should I include a lot of hypocracy to the list of your traits?

    August 21, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. a progressive liberal and proud of it

    "This is a clear sign that the GOP will retake Congress and Sarah Palin will have 2 terms in office from 2013-2021."

    And you get all that from the fact that Republicans use Twitter more, huh. Must be nice to be that naive.

    August 21, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. mad-as-H

    How about two more explanations?

    Liberal regressives can't undue OBAMAS lies in less than 150 words.

    Liberal regressives can't accept media which IGNORES them instead of kissing their dictatorial A$$eS. The ALL get paid by the word from OBAMA and SOROS. It's too cheap for them to tweet.

    August 21, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  25. Tony

    Jeff are you Barack?

    August 21, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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