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. wow

    You guys are hilarious.. But not really. Dont worry the democrats are slowly taking care of 2010 for us. Thank you liberals!

    August 21, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. Arizonan

    Less than 150 words to spread fear and smear, it takes a whole lot more to talk about an issue and have real substance.

    August 21, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. Thomas Paine

    You're all wrong: Conservatives do better at Twitterbecause common sense takes less than 140 words. Ye will know the thruth; and the truth shall set you free.

    In order to really screw up someone's mind, it takes a college textbook sized blog, or four years of lectures from a socialist professor, or 2 years of campaign speeches, or 7 years of anti-Bush protests, or 24/7/365 propaganda from the MSM....

    August 21, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  4. jonathan

    Its absolutely hilarious how the demoncrats are quaking in their boots realizing what they bought for the rest of the nation. The failed policies in the last 8 years pale by comparison to the outright failure of the last 6 months. Unfornately, all this hopey changy thing is going to do is further divide this great country. The failure that kills me is the idea that we have to spend copious amounts of money (that we don't have) to try to repair a problem caused by spending too much money. My 2 year old could do a better job.

    August 21, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. J. Schneider

    Re: Palin Power; rofl (Sarah Palin will have 2 terms in office from 2013-2021). You keep the hope alive my friend, but she couldn't run a T.V. remote much less our country. She's exactly what we need a President who in know way shape of form understands our system of government, or what the Constitution contains or means. I just hope the media doesn't infringe on her 2nd amendment rights, lol.

    August 21, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. True Conservative

    I love how you idiots slam the Conservatives as being knuckle draggers. Don't you know that Conservative Talk Rdio has THE most educated listeners on the airwaves AND that the NY Times Best Seller List is constantly riddled with Conservative Authors, usually taking up residency in the # 1 Spot for weeks and months at a time? Unless you think it might be Liberals lining the pockets of such ignoramuses (note the sarcasm) as Glen Beck, Michelle Malkin and Mark Levin.

    August 21, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. MichaelD

    The juvinille attitude of these comments demonstrate and support the article. If you wish to make a comment, make one. If you want to stick out your tongue and make generalized statements with no basis in fact or relevance, by all means, continue. It makes it easier for the GOP to discuss facts while you look like a two year old throwing a tantrum because you are not getting your way.

    READ THE BILL!

    August 21, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. John

    I thought the GOP was just old white guys that can't type emails... now they are King of the Intertubes? They couldn't organize enough to get John McCain elected, but they can now organize a nation-wide conspiracy to infiltrate town-hall meetings... All within 200 days... Nice.

    August 21, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. B WOODY

    You libs, such sour grapes.

    Take a look in the mirror and see who the real haters and racist really are.

    August 21, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. Don

    Ezra and others Reps can usually do it in 150 words or less instead of a 1000 page legislative bill that even Congressmen/women in the Dem Party don't bother to read before voting or briefing their constituents GO FIGURE wink wink

    August 21, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. LaurieBailey

    Gee Whiz, Twitter fits the lifestyle of most Conservatives. We work for a living, ya know....

    August 21, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. hoser

    a big move up from the 2 #10's attached to each other by string. The GOP deserves to have some fun, whether they like it or not.

    August 21, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  13. Bob

    LOL, liberal losers, you win and your still losers, what's that tell ya. Your ideas suck and everyone knows it. Why don't you libs just move to Canada and be happy and gay. Leave 'OUR' country alone. You don't belong here, your not an American. You want to give everyone an ism when ALL of you are GODism's and GODophobes. At least we stand up for our country, what do you do? Trash it everyday. When the sh1t hits the fan you better hope no one finds out your a liberal. The reason we control twitter is because we have a brain and a computer. How many ACORNS do you think can even type. LIBS=ACORNS=NUTS

    August 21, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  14. debbie

    Of all the social media, Twitter is the one I would NOT use to get my message out. If you're following more than a handful of folks, the tweets get lost. The people who will follow the Republicans are the nitwits who follow then today. They're not going to win over anyone on Twitter. They're so goofy, I have Sarah Palin following ME because a bot picked up her name in one of my tweets. That tweet, by the way, called her an ignoramus. You go, GOP.

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

    And this is some kind of news, how?
    Nobody cares who is on twitter except the ones using it.

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

    What next, electricity?

    August 21, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  17. Charlie

    Left vs. Right debates are how the Looter Class conquer the simple-minded among us.
    You sheeple ought to wake up and realize that it matters not which side you worship. They will all lie to you, and they do not have your interests in mind, but their own.

    August 21, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. Aaron

    Wow, a lot of CNN's readership is extremely liberal. It's like a MoveOn forum in here. <_< "GOP are nitwits, lololol." You know, folks, that message is under 140 characters. How about you all do something productive and go tweet it?

    August 21, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. bigdog

    Yep...the dems are generally losers in life so they dont have the resources. Nice

    August 21, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  20. Eric

    All the previous comments show why this country is in such a mess... everyone should grow a pair and try to fix this country instead of making stupid comments about who does twitter better. You are ALL nitwits.

    August 21, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  21. The Believer

    Well if it's good enough for Ashton and Newt count me in! CNN grow up...who gives a hoot about who has more followers on twitter. Any person with any type of sense or career doesn't have time to follow someone on twitter. Twitter aint all that any way!

    August 21, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. Sphynx

    Comments here from the nutroots are typical of what you'll find on lefty sites. Mostly nasty. Mostly invective. Little substance. Very little evidence to support their assertions.

    August 21, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. Neeraj

    The reason why Twitter is in the hands of the Republicans is because the comments are limited and unlike Facebook, Twitter's character restrictions and comment limits are more limiting, which is why the GOP can outright lie and nobody can call them on it.

    August 21, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  24. TomInStL

    Come on, claiming that it is hard to combat the conservative twitter machine with counter-twitters is not really that hard. Liberals should have the skill to reduce their message to tweet-sized bites. ( Example: GOP talking point = The Bill mandates Death Panels; Dem talking point = GOP tries to control by fear, makes up Death Panel fiction to scare citizens.)

    I would prefer that we do not currently live in a bite-sized spin-filled world, but it is what it is so we better recognize and use it for the better.

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

    The liberals are losing on Twitter because it takes more than 140 characters to spin their complex web of Marxist lies.

    August 21, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
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