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. Steven

    Thats because our message is easily conveyed in 140 characters, the average internet user understands it. This proves Palin 2012 is going to win. Take that liberals, your already beginning to see what a mess you've made!

    August 21, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  2. Curt

    Don't need 140 words when the entire Democrat agenda can be summed up with one word. Garbage.

    August 21, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. Aaron Smith

    Now that we have the right president in office protesters are unAmerican

    August 21, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  4. Really?

    Has anyone ever noticed the dominence of the left in ultimate tweet contest, the bumper stickers. The left rarely uses more than 5 words to blat thier tired mindless montras.

    Twits, indeed.

    August 21, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. Double-edge

    Liberals believe that Republicans are close-knit; that's a myopic assessment. The Republicans, for the most part, have been comprised of conservatives, independent individualists who happen to reason similarly. I see their success Twitter coming from two other Republican or conservative characteristics: One, that this silent majority, mostly conservatives, do actually feel compelled speak up when it becomes imperative, but have traditionally lacked a free medium in which to converse and share information; Twitter provides that medium. Two, that conservatives' facility in articulation arises from their individual propensity to actually study-out the issues – they are individualists who selfishly relish responsibiltiy for their own thoughts and actions – and therefore can actually speak to the issues. This substantive content is what carries the day on Twitter, on Talk Radio, on the Internet, and on any other uncontrolled, relatively free media. Content, content, content.

    August 21, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. arduous

    Palin can't win and Romney can't win the next election due to their liberal stances on abortion/government control. Grassroot conservatives will lead the way in exposing their lies and hypocrisy to the public.
    Palin promotes pro-abort judges, Romney advocates $50 abortions in his Romney care (which was socialism).
    Welcome to four more years of Obama. At least the Democrats don't lie about what stance they take.

    August 21, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  7. Dave

    Aw, c'mon kids...Don't get all wee-weed up because, once again, Conservatism beats Socialism.

    August 21, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  8. Gees

    Thats a wonder since the dems have twits in high places.

    August 21, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  9. wildoo

    Wow, let's see if I can guess what demographic I might be 'subjected' to here. . . . ? It wouldn't be the EMPTY-SUIT (image = everything) 18-30yr. liberal crowd who has a monopoly on tech. / gadgetry would it..? I have found consistently, that young conservatives in this demo. appear FAR MORE informed passionate and astute than liberals in the same group. And, of the ones in either camp, who eventually switch affiliations, by FAR, a majority of liberals will convert to conservatives. It's a shame they must waste that precious time.....

    August 21, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. Brendan D

    Okay, seriously, folks, let's get a handle on this. Once again, CNN proves just how out-of-touch and behind-the-times it is. The battle for the hearts and minds of people isn't being waged on Twitter! Are you folks stupid, or just that gullible? Twitter is one rather large networking site, but it is JUST A NETWORKING SITE! It doesn't have any special powers or abilities to alter people's consciousness. Its users may reflect certain strains of opinion, but messages and followers on Twitter do not necessarily represent mainstream Americans - particularly because the folks Democrats and Republicans seek to court on healthcare are older and therefore don't use, or, in some cases, even have access to, Internet.

    Please, folks, let's try to be logical about this. Twitter isn't a scientific poll or even a town hall meeting - it's just a website, sort of like how CNN is just another entertainment station.

    August 21, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  11. Tim

    Liberals are very good at personal attacks but they have nothing to back up their left wing agenda

    August 21, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  12. Steve

    Liberals miss the point. Conservatives aren't "out-organizing" them on social networking sites. Conservatives and other free-thinking Americans are GENUINELY moved to action. It's called democracy in action.

    August 21, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. mnman

    What a bunch of liberal idiots.

    August 21, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. Tim

    Oh I forgot this is a cnn site, you only post left wing comments. My bad

    August 21, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  15. Larry-bob

    So you quote two bloggers and that's a consensus? There is plenty of talk from both sides on Twitter but not a lot of dialogue

    August 21, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. Juge

    Forget the tweets – leave it to the twits!

    August 21, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  17. IndyGuy

    Come on guys, don't get all "wee weed" up about it!

    All this talk about the GOP not speaking well – where's the talk about our "President" and his wording?

    August 21, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  18. liberalsbeewhiners

    who cares about twitter and facebook. go outside and get some sun, it'll do wonders for that bad complexion and me against the world attitude

    August 21, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. srcamachonj

    For the far left to assume that it's only republicans, and conservatives that are upset, is for them to again believe they have a superior outlook on the issues. The truth of the matter is, this administration, as well as both houses of Congress have shown themselves to be so far left, that even the moderates can't fathom their views.

    August 21, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  20. Bob McBob

    NeoComms are just getting all wee-weed up because their Open Conspiracy is finally showing through. Lenin is laughing at Wells.
    We don't need a ruling elite to administer social justice to us peon serfs, we need less government and more personal freedom and responsibility. If you think the people are incapable of self determination and need to be sheepled, you ARE worse than Hitler.

    August 21, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. tim

    Wow, what a surprise. And anyone who thinks Palin has a political future is a twit. She is the reason your side lost. I would have voted for McCain but not with that nitwit anywhere near the white house and if you don't think that's a majority opinion, just try putting her up again.

    August 21, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. Anarchy101

    Your comment is awaiting moderation. ~ Rise up! Anarchists, lunatics & terrorists!

    August 21, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  23. g.g.

    Are the netroots bloggers still anti-war? Just checking.

    August 21, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. Vince Hugh

    Conservatives may have the upper hand on twitter and blogs, but liberals have the upper hand with the national media and CNN.

    August 21, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. LeeHarvey

    Yes: 150 words! Because the average Americans attention span can't handle more then that! Conservatives know this: we don't try to bore the American people with a lot of rhetoric, like the DemoRats! Americans are a fast food, "give it to me NOW"! type of society and we have learned to capitalize on that. Which is why we will take the house/senate back and dump all this healthcare garbage!

    August 21, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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