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. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    Outrageouslies spread like wildfire. Goebbels would be proud.

    August 21, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. Esther

    who watches CNN anymore?

    August 21, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Vince Hugh

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

    August 21, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. glen

    I'd guess the divide between the haves and have-nots has less to do with the two parties' respective social media/blog usage than does the demographic divide, given younger people typically vote democrat and are more comfortable with social media sites like Twitter. I think this shows an interesting change in how the Republicans do business, and a long overdue one at that.

    August 21, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. srn

    indyvoter–where are you getting your data, don't you know most people have the cell phone, have access to a computer and make a lot of noise as others pay for them to stay home and do just that.

    August 21, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Uncle Obama

    Just like how off the teleprompter Obama is just so eloquent and precise in his description of why America needs this health care program.

    So to jjj's point... You agree with IndyVoter in that lower income constituents are democrats and cannot afford laptops/ "expensive" phone plans... and you add to that cannot afford cable. Yet they get their news from the internet?

    If you want all these handouts... Europe has a negative natural born growth rate. So immigrate there. We left Europe and became the GREATEST nation on Earth by not following Europe's lead.

    Tweet tweeeters

    August 21, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Cindy

    They're turning twitter into junk mail. Garbage in; garbage out.

    August 21, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. Keith

    Obama could never use twitter because he can't even tell you the time in under 160 characters.

    August 21, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. Garet

    Truth doesn't require gymnastic use of language in the same manner that "progressive" subversion does. One can't effectively reduce broad circular arguments into a 140 characters. One can say "It's not in the Constitution" quite effectively. Conservatives own Facebook too. This, of course, makes sense demographically as conservatives outnumber libtards 2 to 1, which is why, when the Repubs runsactual conservatives instead of a faux-cons and Rinos like McCain, Graham and Specter, they will return to power. People finally understand that the Dems are just the government party.

    August 21, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  10. cushinski

    Conservatives are to busy going to work and making sinful profits to spend time at a conference to learn how to become a better online atavist.

    August 21, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  11. Stuart

    Of course the Conservatives have the upper hand. They are speading the truth. The Libs change their position on the isues every 24 hours & have Gibbs as their Liar in Chief.

    August 21, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  12. conservativejames

    I think that the Conservative movement is doing a better job all the way around. Not just on tweets or blogging but of rallying the troops & getting their message out. Since the Libs suck as talk radio show hosts, we already own that market. Now we are beginning to control the blogs. 2010 here we come.

    August 21, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. Jaycee

    LOL, liberal bloogers. Too bad they couldn't have forgotten the L. Liberal boogers is very appropriate.

    August 21, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  14. Robinette Hussein

    John August 21st, 2009 1:45 pm ET

    "Progressive? What is that?

    You guys are all BOZO.

    Progressive means Liberal but they are ashamed to call themselves that.

    Liberalism is a mental disorder."

    John, you have just insulted the mentally disordered.

    August 21, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  15. Kris D., Toronto

    I think the 140 character limit is why it's perfect for today's conservatives. After using words and phrases like 'facist', 'socialist', 'hitler' and 'death panels' they've prety much used up their entire vocabulary.

    August 21, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. hulagate

    Ready To e-Rumble? Add your sweet Tweetness to the Official White House Enemies List today, with the new #OWHEL hash tag.

    PATRIOTS ONLY, please.

    August 21, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. Bryan Chalker

    "Thats why they call them the new nitwits.hahaha – twitwits are the new nitwits"...no that is clever. Obama's heavy use during the campaign does lend a bit of credence to it, though...

    "They typical Democratic demographic either doesn't have money for cable, or else they're more likely to get their news from other sources such as the internet. – jjj"...hmmmm, no money for cable, but they've got the cash for the web. Wouldn't that give them Twitter?

    "Of course they're better at twitter… it takes less than 140 characters to spread fear and hate… – chris"...obviously, you've had your head in the sand for the previous 8 years. More hate spit out buy the tolerant liberal voices in one of those weeks, that in Obama's run so far. Lame, lame, lame.

    "So what?…That's the GOP All Twit (Talk), No Action. GOP = Twits or Nitwits – jeff" nice, though mangled, attempt at making a point. But the Tweets are what is getting people in action.

    "Gee, the Republicans are better at condensing complicated issues into meaningless sound/text bites? – D-Nice" ...

    actually, "preserve Freedom", "don't use my money to pay for your mortgage/health care/etc.", "even higher taxes for wealth. Ummm, yea – my motivation to succeed is gone" would all be under 140-characters...and well under the 1000 pages of an unread heath care bill.

    Basically, you liberals who used sit-ins, protests, etc. for everthing from the nukes to vietnam to church, have a difficult time accepting conservatives doing likewise. Using a medium to get the word out is elementary.

    ...No need to get upset. You still own the mainstream media.

    August 21, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  18. Eric

    That might be so about conservative bloggers needing to catch up, but it's happening. Places like Newsbusters are doing their part to bring out the truth as conservatives see it. 🙂

    August 21, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. Ed Hawkins

    My very wise Latina house cleaner is off today, so since she is wiser than I, my opinion is not very good. I'll just have to defer my opinion until next week. This being an old decrepted white guy is the pits!
    Ed Hawkins Denver

    August 21, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. Gary

    Conservatives do not have the upper hand on Twitter – – they have the upper hand on policy! We cannot keep accelerating deficit spending. We have to cut pork programs (even good ones!) because we have limited money. We do not need more government involved in healthcare. We do not need higher taxes on anyone. The Bank bailouts, the backroom deals with Axelrod's consulting company and with big Pharma are making us sick. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barney Frank's outrageous insults to protestors? Countrywide mortgage special favors to Sen. Dodd? This all adds up to corruption and poor policy and unless the Democrats can clean up their act they will lose the congress and the white house. Twitter is not the issue.

    August 21, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. conservativejames

    If the Obama administration is so technically savy then why aren't they winning this battle. The answer is easy; because they are still smitten with the fact they are the controlling party. They are basking in the glow of the win while we organize to build the party up the way it should be. We are going back to our roots to see that our message is strong, loud & not able to be ignored by the Liberal media. It actually is very refreshing to see the swagger among Conservatives come back. We have a purpose & that is to drive Nancy Pelosi to double her dosage of xanex & for Barney Frank to keel over from exhaustion. Enjoy it now liberals because you won't be in power much longer.

    August 21, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Mij Noslo

    Touched a nerve with the liberal temper tantrum crowd did we??!!

    August 21, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. it will not matter

    as a battle of ideas rages

    the GOP has a signicant deficit

    the GOP will go down in flames

    up will rise the independants

    August 21, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. Glenn Beck

    By proof of some of the blogging here, the RNC "hires" hacks to do their dirty work – that or our country really needs to revisit it's "no child left behind" education policy (ironic because of an idiot president) because the neocon rightwingextreme nut jobs are "exerting their right" to exhibit their ignorance by the posts here. I'd like to think the NeoCon bloggers here are home schooled, religulous right-wingextremists whom are "Work from home! Make $$$" citizens who go their information of the local telephone poll and is working for an RNC Marketing firm to flood intelligent conversation with SHOUTING before picking up their minimum wage check, grabbing some Old Milwaukee and passing out watching Nascar.

    August 21, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. scott

    we have to use 140 words or less so you dems can find someone to read it to you.

    August 21, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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