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. a12iggymom

    Nice cencorship, CNN. It's not just twitter it's every single area on the internet. Blogs, news pages, internet radio ect... Conservatives have a better, more reasoned outlook than the negative left. Which is why the left trolls conservative sites.

    August 21, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  2. AlwaysRIGHT

    I don't know what's worse, being able to concisely deliver a message in 140 characters or less or writing a 1,000-page bill and not reading it. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid leftys!

    August 21, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Zaphod

    The mistake is to assume that the Conservative Twitteratti are being organized by some one ore something. These people really are grass-roots and pissed off. Like "LittleBrushFire," most are not even in contact with each other and add hashtags that they run across in order to help others find more like-minded citizens.

    The relevance of Twitter, probably not even planned by those who use it, is that these short, 140 CHARACTERS (Ezra, you plebe) constitute the attention span of the MTV generation, the youth, and the moderates that make up so much of what Liberals target. That's why the Democrats (Obama) came up with their millions long list of text message recipients. Great for organizing their rent-a-mobs, but for advocacy you will only be preaching to the Liberal choir. Twitter reaches all those not yet indoctrinated.

    The Conservatives don't have a Soros funded 509 like that spends tens of millions of dollars to organize "grass-roots" campaigns. If you think Conservatives are dominating now, God help you when they actually DO organize!

    August 21, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Owen

    Ohhh yea those EVIL Repub's so organized and message driven with there little 150 word fear mongering tweets. Dem's would never be guilty of that......"change you can believe in"......ANYBODY ELSE IN 2012'

    August 21, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. article-1

    wnat did you expect,,,not

    August 21, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. big deal

    you dont need to blather on with many words to get the point across. when youare wrong you are wrong, when you are right.... dont need a book full of words to be right...

    August 21, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. Joe

    Maybe because most of the people using Twitter are the same people who listen to talk radio all day. People who have NOTHING IMPORTANT TO DO.

    August 21, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. JP

    With liberals having no substance to offer, I can truly understand why this is the case. Liberals have become so open minded their brains have fallen out.

    August 21, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. Jason

    No one understands Obama's Health Care plan since it is so complex. Even Obama doesn't know what is in it. Condensing issues to 140 characters or less so that the general public can understand it is very smart. Obama could learn from this and not give his typical 10 minute long winded answers.

    August 21, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. jinxie

    I only twitter when mildly amused. I only tweet after consuming complex carbohydrates.
    I think I'll run for office!
    I can just about see Healthcare from here!

    August 21, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  11. Davis Bare

    I really struggle with all of the name calling but enjoy pondering liberals and the left. I often look at my dog, which science would say has the mind of a 2 yr. old, for answers. He licks and loves anyone and anything, has no concept of God or a higher power and generally just eats, poops, sleeps and entertains (sometimes he eats his poop). I than understand that the liberal left is just like him i.e. I should accept them, love them and take care of them because that’s all they want.

    Now seriously. I am a conservative and have nothing against helping those that can't care for themselves. I don't begrudge anyone the right to obtain healthcare, etc. But to run around making sure that everyone has it is totally different. Nobody thinks Obamamonster is Hitler we just think his policies are Hitler lite.

    Reparations and redistribution are ridiculous concepts. Let each person carry his or her own weight, take care of their brother sister and love their neighbor as themselves (kind of like churches do). I don’t see a need for someone in Florida to worry about someone in Texas (might just be here illegally).

    But then I can’t be right because I look at my dog for answers about Libs and Dems.

    August 21, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. DeeDee

    Lots of anger here against Republicans (but that is to be expected on Communist News Network). Could the Reps be gaining ground on twitter because more and more people are turned off and frightened by the liberals and obama lying and forcing bad social engineering policies on Americans? Let the Pres Bush bashing begin in 4, 3, 2,..........

    August 21, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. Libertarian

    It is typical of both the MSM and liberal bloggers to associate the conservative movement with the GOP. The GOP failed to deliver anything resembling conservative, libertarian ideology for 8 years and is playing catch up tyring to win back the votes of the disenfranchised base. Most of the movement today is unorganized, non party affiliated Americans that simply have a different view of the role of the Federal Government and it crosses all party lines. The GOP will not win these voters back unless they return to their roots. Todays conservatives are nothing more than classical liberals as liberal has been so redefined by Americans. The parties are not that different, but pit each of us against each other so we take the eye off the ball (and empower themselves). Todays movement is moving beyond the party affiliation and we are only seeing the beginning.

    August 21, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. Brett

    Yeah, Republicans are dumb, and they're stupid, and they stink, and they can only think thoughts in 140 letters or less, and ... whoops, I think my 140 letters or less is up. God, I wish all those Republicans were as smart as me, then they wouldn't be so dumb.

    August 21, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. janus

    Liberals are a minority. that's probably because they are still living with mommy and daddy and have taken on no responsiblity.

    August 21, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  16. Steve (the real one)

    Jeff August 21st, 2009 1:00 pm ET
    So what?…That's the GOP All Twit (Talk), No Action. GOP = Twits or Nitwits
    Sorry Jeff! Speaking of all talk and no action...The Dems own everything and still cannot get anything done except speeches and infomercials! Prime!

    August 21, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. justin

    if you think being able to explain something in <= 140 characters is bad... see Occam's razor.

    August 21, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  18. Dan, WA

    Republicans should link Deeds to Barack Obama and his failed policies. Clunkers project now put so many Americans in debt while they had no debt when they were driving their old cars. It is same as Fannie mae and Freddie Mac which was created by Bill Clinton and that project as well put Americans into debt and thus economic collapse. Democrats are trying to blame GOP and George W. Bush but reality is different. Deeds should know that. Virginians, do not elect democrats to your offices. They do not deserve it. They are spending money which we do not have.

    August 21, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  19. hugh betcha

    “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.”


    libbers tell the nation obumblecare will save money and let us have all the health care we need and it takes more than just a 140 to explain why that is such a crock of ****. So we came up with death panels.

    You don't like it? Tough! You started it!

    August 21, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. anet

    and the dems can't explain anything period. They make all their policies 1,000 pages b/c they know nobody in their party can read and they can just blow it by them. Get a grip folks.

    August 21, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. Yo daddy

    Well, Lezra, the fiscally irresponsible and morally bankrupt policies of the demOcraps cannot be defended regardless of the number of words used.

    August 21, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    I love how you idiots portray Conservatives as idiots. Conservative talk radio has THE most educated listeners AND the NY Times Best Seller List is riddled with conservative authors. Who's buying those books? Liberals(oops, I meant Progressives) Just sayin'

    August 21, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. lightningbolt1

    I know a liberal won't acknowledge the truth, they haven't yet but just so you might understand why the people are upset at the meetingsI'll try to clue you in( like that would do any good.)
    When government controls the media which ignores all the protest and questions to the current political powers. The people get tired of being politically correct with a bunch of lying, backstabbing, politicians who try to paint the world Rosy bright red with black paint.When the numbers don't add up(use a calculator lib's).And they stand and say (it isn't in the bill), when you can download it and find what surprisingly isn't there, You end up waking up America to just how low politicians and their crooked croonies really are.
    When you then descide to get even dumber, and call Americans all sorts of names and start telling stupid lies(like pelosi) the people take the gloves off and give it back to you. Then they want to cry foul, and blame everything and everybody to try and hide their inlightened agenda that was dragged out into the open.
    People wanted you to fix health-care so we could cover the one's LESS FORTUNATE). Not throw away a system that covers 85% of the population.We thought you was going to fix and regulate the Insurance companies to where all could find coverage. Not make coverage worse for the one's that have it.I don't understand how bringing everyone down to the less fortunates level helps anyone.I thought we was suppose to bring their level up.
    How can you justify also taking 500 billion from medicare and stand in a room with voters and try to say that it wouldn't impact their health-care.All, why trying to move 100,000000 more people on medicare in your health-care reform. Now I don't need a calculator to see something doesn't look right in your liberal logic.And I guess, neither does anyone else in America from what I'm seeing......

    August 21, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  24. Texastwitter

    Twitter effective for GOP because they are working to support DEMs entitlements and can send quick tweets to enter political battles ... Watch out Dems ... This liberal is on to you!!!!

    August 21, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  25. charles

    The bombastic foolishness and NAZI street thug tactics of this administration are waking up conservatives and the world to what the left is doing.

    Thank God people can see the empty shirt for what he is.

    August 21, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
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