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. Jason

    AMAZING! Of the 9 comments, 6 are insulting towards Conservatives. Geez, Liberals (oh sorry, PROGRESSIVES) just can't stand not having the upper hand and revert to hate speech. Keep calling us twits and we'll continue organizing and take back Congress in a couple years.

    August 21, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Sansan

    What a bunch of bull! The technology lets people vent, Republicans have a lot of venting to do with the "dope" Obama as president. Democrats don't care, they've been in charge of the house and senate since 2006 and have done all their complaining about Bush, now its the Republicans turn. So what?

    August 21, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. jayjack

    obama and his lackeys just use other forms of media to lie to the public

    August 21, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. Joey

    I suppose, Ezra and D-nice, that this means Buddha was a Republican?

    August 21, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. Mike from Vancouver BC

    It's easy to attack a policy when there is one (unlike the conservatives platform).

    August 21, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |

    Dear Jeff and Chris;
    While considering what would drive you both to this infantile kind of response in public, I concluded that there must be a lifetime of failure, resentment and victimization behind your actions. Otherwise, why would you dismiss the entire trend of technological communications with a "so what," etc. Since I am already over my alloted 140 characters, let me end with the following: YOU ARE BOTH A COUPLE OF LOOPEY LIBERAL BUMBLEF.CKS WHO ARE PROBABLY AT THIS MOMENT GIVING EACH OTHER A BL.W JOB. WIPE THE C.M OFF YOUR FACES AND WAKE UP, GET JOBS, READ A BOOK. Morons.

    August 21, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. 60's survivor

    copy. paste. repeat. it's not the quantity. it's the quality of the message. if you can only put out sensationalized lies what will be the outcome. a foundation built on sand will surely fail us all'

    August 21, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. GOP = 21st century dodo

    I think it was Will Rogers who said "I don't belong to any organized political party, I belong to the Democratic Party."

    GOP leadership has been refining the methods to whip up the complacent base via fear, anger, and hate since the days of Nixon.

    August 21, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. Tony in Maine

    D-Nice beat me to it.

    The bumper sticker crew has found Twitter. All the more reason to find another way to communicate.

    Besides, I don't care if "you're walking down the street."

    August 21, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  10. MillerJ

    Rag all you want lefties. November of 2010 is ever closer. Many of your socialist legislator twits will have plenty of time to tweet when they are unemployed.

    August 21, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. TacAirlifter

    I want some of you to read your posts one more time. "Of course they're better at twitter… it takes less than 140 characters to spread fear and hate". This is your ONLY response to the conservative side of our nation (who, might I add, do outnumber liberals) is that you have to become a guttersnipe? When you are ready to debate the issues of that day, versus looking for some little way to rally your far-left friends, then drop me a line... or Tweet.

    August 21, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  12. Hektor

    Strange...reading the expletive-laden, monosyllabic, monotonous inputs posted on Daily KOS, et al, one would think tweets would be the natural domain for such idiotoids.

    August 21, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  13. Better than Ezra

    Twitter is popular because us Conservative Christian right wing haters are sick of your irrational nonsensical views on everything.

    We love God given freedom, not liberal provide "fairness".

    August 21, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. Erin

    Both Ezra and D-Nice are indeed correct.The Republicans are once again playing to the lowest common denominator.

    August 21, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. T-Pain

    Wow! It's amazing that several neo-libs came up with the same stupid 140+ character joke. Good ones!

    August 21, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Jon von Gillern

    Subtle Bias Much?

    "Club For Growth promoted their Twitter account on their $1.2 million ad campaign against health care."

    Oh, I didn't know that the Club For Growth is against Health Care. Those eeevil conservatives. This line if written by an unbiased person would have read:

    "Club For Growth promoted their Twitter account on their $1.2 million ad campaign against President Obama's Government Run Health Care Plan."

    August 21, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. sandra

    No wonder; it's because conservatives are short on words and heart.

    August 21, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. Joe

    Imagine that, all this GOP hate coming from people who frequent the CNN (Communist News Network).

    Do me a favor and look up Progressive, do something you guys (liberals) don't normally do (research). Try to understand that some of us like controlling our own lives, and not being told what to think and how to think. Don't let someone else (including the government) tell you what is best for you..

    I know I will get blasted for this, but I don't think it will be educated comments. Because that is what the liberal/progressive/socialist movement counts on, no one educating themselves. No offense to anyone, I don't hate you for believing what you do.

    August 21, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. Mark C. Eades

    Twitter is a medium naturally well-suited to those with a limited vocabulary and a short attention span. Consider Sarah Palin, who has a difficult time coming up with even 140 words that make sense, but who completely goes off the rails with anything longer. To write or even read something as long and complicated as a blog entry would be far beyond the mental ability of the typical Republican.

    August 21, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. sammieb51

    Who cares - anyone who has time to sit around and 'twitter' all day REALLLLLY needs to find something in their life!

    August 21, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. John

    hmmm let's see:

    The stimulus porkulus is killing the US (7 words)
    Nobama Death panel will kill granny (6 words)
    Obamacare is socialism (3 words)

    Explaining why even tough less than 10 % of the stimulus is in the economy, and actually helped (and is helping) pulling back the GDP upwards, and while is true that it's growing the deficit, but it was an INVESTEMENT that needed to be done in order to avoid the great depression 2, in 6 quarters when the job market will be tending to it's natural unemployment rate, the stimulus will pay for itself. But hey what do I know; I’m only allowed to use less than 140 words

    No wonder Sarah loves to tweet,.

    August 21, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. itzWicks

    If one can't cut through the clutter to make a salient point, it might as well not exist. Brevity truly is the soul of wit.

    Sometimes people get too full of themselves when using a lot of words to articulate something when a few choice words will do, and be more memorable to boot.

    Lincoln knew it well. And he wasn't exactly a favorite of the elite either.

    August 21, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Peter

    Wait a minute !!these are not conservatives! Its the lobbyist and Pharmaceuticals and insurance companies employees twitting. They are afraid of their jobs and wrongly so!!

    August 21, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. brian

    Tweets work for us because we don't use double speak or intentionally confusing language so we can complain about being taken out of context. Oh... And maybe it is popular for conservatives because we work and can afford the text fees. And we outnumber you libs also. Get used to it and start looking for ways to blame BUSH CAUSE WE ARE TAKING OVER ALOT MORE THAN JUST TWITTER.

    August 21, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. Who put the twit in twitter? Sarah!

    @ Palin Power


    August 21, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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