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

Liberal bloggers admit conservatives have upper hand on Twitter

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/21/art.twitter.cnn.jpg 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 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.


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

    I guess when 140 characters is all your IQ level can manage a forum like Twitter would obviously end up catering to the fascist conservative far-right wing nuts.

    August 21, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Debbie

    Uhhh the title of this article is misleading to say the least. It's really an article about the GOP and Twitter. Twitter has become a mini blog of 140 characters or less of what people are doing. That does not translate into concervatives gaining political steam. To say that people such as Kutcher or Gingrich use Twitter does not mean they are reaching people outside of those who follow them. It only means that those who are using Twitter are mostly conservatives. It does not mean that independent or Democrates are using Twitter to communicate. Twitter is not the hottest technology for young voters. I'm glad the GOP has moved into this century as far as technology goes but Twitter is not what is being used to communicate. It's a tool that had a big impact and is now fading away. Tweets are of no more importance than my leaving a message on Facebook.

    August 21, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Dan R

    Yeah democats are so good at substance that they write 1500 page bill an never read it before they vote on it.

    August 21, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Evelyn

    Well of course Republican twits are finding success on Twitter. With its 140 character limit, their intellectual weaknesses can't be revealed.

    August 21, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. Tman

    This goes to prove that the facts and common sense will always rule. Why do you think that liberal talk radio is never successful. Want to see liberals squirm? Throw facts and common sense at them...it's hilarious to watch.

    August 21, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. No Twitter, NC

    Who has the time to Twitter or the money for this type of gadget. I can barley pay for voice mail on my cell phone. OOPs, got to get back to work my 3 minute break is over.

    August 21, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. vic nashville , Tn

    Democrats working hard they don’t have time to chat

    Even they don’t have time spread rumors

    But they will find a time to vote

    August 21, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. John

    That's because anything more than 140 characters is incomprehensible for most Republican's. Same reason Palin doesn't read newspapers or magazines. Same reason Bush couldn't have gotten into college without his Daddy. Same reason Republican rhetoric is confined to pit bulls with lipstick, death panels, and all sorts of other 1 liners.

    To every complex question there is a simple answer – and it's wrong! That's the Republican way.

    August 21, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. Rushbaby

    I am sure the libs will try to find away to include this in the fairness doctrine. They have to silence the truth no matter how it is reported.

    August 21, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. Grace

    Bu-Bye Dems. ( I guess that just summed it up in less than 140 words)

    August 21, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. Rick F

    Ezra – Maybe the Republicans can follow the Democratic model and explain things in 1,000 page texts?

    August 21, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. dude

    Or could it be that conservative twitting is more effective because it does not take many words to compare lines from the actual proposed bill and the discrepancies about one is saying about the bill. I agree it does takes a lot more words to say I know I said that, but I really meant this, and sure those words are in the bill, but….

    August 21, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  13. Phid

    "Of course they're better at twitter… it takes less than 140 characters to spread fear and hate… 140+ to have substance."

    Is "substance" what liberals call the leftist stream coming out of the Daily Show?

    August 21, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  14. Dennis

    Conservatives...you mean REAL Americans. Beware of Liberals posing as Americans.

    August 21, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  15. Jeff in Houston

    I'm impressed. Thought they were still sturggling with fire. But answer this one: How long before they can a.) turn it in to a weapon of some kind, of b.) a fear generation engine. Ooops. Looks like we have the answer: B.

    But I question the wisdom. How much longer will they be able to reach their base if those same people cannot afford to live on what the top one-percent allows us to have? On the other hand, maybe its all jsut for the right wing elite, so they can sit in a circle and....oh never mind. I have limits.

    August 21, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  16. Kurt

    Yep, figures, fear and soundbites are the easiest to deliver in such short text...

    August 21, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. Thomas Paine

    Or, maybe it takes Conservatives less than 140 characters to get an answer, while it takes a liberal an hour long speech to not answer a question

    August 21, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. Jeff in Houston

    Wait! I just had an idea! Lets build in a feature that filters out the truth, as well as any big words Sarah does not know. Efficiency matters. this will save them a good deal of time, and Sarah will have one less blank expression on her face.

    August 21, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. truthbeagle

    Obviously these comments are written by people who know nothing about twitter. Most tweets link to complete articles from liberal and conservative sources, allowing conservatives to see the points of view of both and make our own decisions. They do not contain 'sound/text' bites. Liberals have their blinders on and are only allowed to see information from their own twisted points of view (with 'we watch Fox so you don't have to' statements and attitudes)

    August 21, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. Michael Bindner

    Real Men don't Tweet.

    August 21, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. lightningbolt1

    How do you deal with an entity you can't buy out like the Internet and other media devices.The Dems have lost the American people and believe they should go ahead with their plans despite American finding out what they are actually trying to do.Lets see why to attack Obama on the Issues......hmmmmmm. Lets see if I can find one or two shall we....
    He lied about lobbiest, he lied about bipartisanship, he lied about being moderate, he lied about the stimulus, he lied about unemployment,He lied about the American people abroad,He lied about medicare, medicaid, He lied about stopping foreclosures. He even lied to gays about gay rights.He lied about this bill in more ways than we even know yet.He lied about Iraq, He lied about Afghanistan, He lied about transparancy, he lied about letting the American people see the bills before they was voted on.He lied about unemployment,
    Come to think of it, I think it would be easier to state the things he didn't lie about....................... Yep, see that was much easier!

    August 21, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. a12iggymom

    It's not just twitter, it's blogs, internet radio show, news pages, ect..., conservatives out pace leftards in everything internet!

    August 21, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. Independent Voter

    for those of you who keep talking about ...the poor/lower middle class folks dont have computers/laptops or expensive cell phones.....
    come on....really????? you really are stupid...the reason most of them dont have insurance is because they would rather spend there money on big screen tv's, cell phones and fancy cars....go on down to the poor section and see how many nice rides you see outside a section 8 home. get real!

    August 21, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. gittarpikker

    WOW, these comments sure show how the cons put out petty meaningless drivel on the internet. Way to show'em.

    August 21, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. Steve-O

    well I'm a lefty and I subscribe to Sarah Palin and Rove's twitter feeds. I think many of us liberals do. Because we want to know what they're saying. It has nothing to do with following the Right's marching orders.

    August 21, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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