Blog traffic

This is interesting:

Instapundit isn't doing too bad, either, with his daily traffic up to 376,000/day. The traffic trends of Daily Kos and Hot Air are even more interesting...

Daily Kos

  • April '08: 29,262,488 (visits)
  • March '09: 23,987,984
  • Traffic: -5,274,504

Hot Air

  • April '08: 7,616,673 (visits)
  • March '09: 17,897,554
  • Traffic: +10,280,881

Last month, Simon Owens found that post-election blog traffic declined 58% on the Left, compared to 36% on the Right.

There is no simple explanation for this.  Obviously, the Left's higher baseline and more contentious 2008 primary/election season plays a part.  But I suspect we'll be rediscovering something we had previously learned in the 90's and 00's: the internet is good for insurgencies and opposition.

The Leftosphere and the Rightosphere

Ezra Klein makes an important, oft-overlooked point:

One of the really interesting things about the blog The Next Right is how closely it echoes liberal laments from early-2005. But where liberals were sadly marveling over the Right's physical infrastructure (Heritage, Fox News, the Olin Foundation), now conservatives are staring up at the Left's electronic infrastructure. But the complaints are much the same: They pay people to do things! They're more ruthlessly efficient! They're more tightly connected with each other! It always makes me think of an interview Bill Kristol gave to Jon Stewart, where he said something like, "don't worry Jon. The worm will turn. It always does. We look good now, but I'm here to tell you, just wait.

I actually think the Republican Party is in a position very similar to the Democratic Party circa 1995 - alienated from its own base, struggling to maintain whatever power it can, but without an agenda that really resonate with the public.  And, like the Progressives in the late 90's-early 00's, the Right is increasingly unconvinced that the Republican Party really has the ability to advance its goals. 

That said, this 2005 American Prospect story by Garance Franke-Ruta about the right wing blogosphere is an amusing time-encapsulation of Klein's point...

But unlike traditional news outlets, right-wing blogs openly shill, fund raise, plot, and organize massive activist campaigns on behalf of partisan institutions and constituencies; they also increasingly provide cover for professional operatives to conduct traditional politics by other means -- including campaigning against the established media.

And instead of taking these bloggers for the political activists they are, all too often the established press has accepted their claims of being a new form of journalism. This will have to change -- or it will prove serious journalism's undoing.

The Leftosphere is now everything she had alleged the Rightosphere to be in 2005.  And Garance Franke-Ruta now works for "the established press".

We're Missing the Boat(s)

Over the past week, I've noticed folks having many takes on why the right has not been able to match what the left has created online. There have been many good arguments for the cause of that failure, but I think I've noticed the biggest one that has yet to be discussed.

For years those on the left have bemoaned the fact that conservative talk radio has overtaken the airwaves and helped launch many successful endeavors. They tried at first to create their own talk radio movement, but that flat out collapsed. Their next move was to suggest the bringing back of the archaic 'fairness doctrine'. This also failed, for now.

With no other place to go, hard driven liberal activists went to the only place they really could, online. It was here that they were able to take advantage of the speed of the internet and it's ability to build online communities. They created open transparent web sites where activists were able to be localized, communicate, exchange ideas, and raise money for causes they felt strong about. The result of  which is now a technologically savy online liberal machine that is able to pull large numbers of individuals and money to any cause in a matter of hours or days. It's quite a formidable enterprise, and one that should not be underestimated by Republicans focusing on the 'old way' of doing things.

Now it's the conservatives who bemoan the fact that we are the ones being left behind on the net.  We're all sitting here now trying to figure out how we can build something similar to counter the online liberal machine. It's my belief, that we have the opportunity to build something to rival our friends on the left, in fact I think we even have an advantage that they never had, and that is the power of talk radio.

I know it's simple to say that, but sometimes the answer to the hardest problem is just  a simple answer that's right in front of your face. Talk radio has been right in our face for years, and it's really about time that someone finds a way to take advantage of what we have in it.

When people tell me that the left is kicking our ass online, I've always replied that we were really kicking their ass on the air waves and that if we wanted our own Moveon.org style site, we could have one if talk radio just got behind it. Nothing like that has happened though, and people still just talk about "where's our Moveon?"

For conservatives online, our inability to link with talk radio is comparable to the US Navy heading out to battle without it's feared aircraft carrier battle groups. The Navy's strength and power is primarily built around those battle groups, and they couldn't expect to take the fight to our enemies without them.  Conservatives similarily have this in talk radio, yet in no real sufficient way is talk radio's true power being harnessed here on the internet.

Conservative talk radio is our version of the aircraft carrier. Much of our conservative strength is built around it and we use it to project our influence. The liberals wisely fear it's lethal power, yet when it comes to the battle online, we leave them tied up back in the harbor.

To this day, historians debate on what would have happened if the American aircraft carriers weren't at sea during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. It would have been truly catastrophic and left both Hawaii and the west coast almost defenseless. If conservatives were to lose talk radio one day, where would conservatism be?

We have to remember folks, that a big goal of the netroots was to create something to counter our talk radio. If they succeed in sending more liberal Democrats to the House, Senate, and even the White House, they just might wind up sinking talk radio for good by bringing back the Fairness Doctrine.

Yes, it may sound extreme, but when did that ever stop the left?

It's my belief that at some point in time, maybe when circumstances demand so, someone or some group will figure out how to work with the vast talk radio platform and create an online organization that will rival and one day surpass what the left has built online.

When will that be? I don't know, but I hope it's sooner, rathan than later. It's time to bring the massive firepower of talk radio and our best online minds together now before it's too late.

That's just my two cents. 


Lane is the founder of the former Blogs For Fred Thompson and currently runs Blogs For John McCain.


The challenge for the rightosphere

Promoted. This adds tremendously to the discussion and I'd like to associate myself with everything Alexander has written. We'd like to think The Next Right is a small part of the solution to the problems Alexander and Jon have identified. -Patrick

Partly in response to Jon's earlier post, I think its important for all of us to look seriously at the right side of the blogosphere and see why we are ineffective.

And this is the truth.  By any measure of effectiveness, we are way behind.  In terms of money raised, attention brought to candidates, or ability to drive a message.

The reason, above all, is that their side is full of activists, and ours is full of pundits.  Spend a few minutes perusing some of the top liberal blogs and everything is about driving attention to a specific race, or something else thats happening NOW, with a means of taking action.

On conservative blogs on the other hand, you have a thousand different bloggers who all want to be a talking head on one of the cable networks.  Everyone has an opinion and feels the need to explain why they are correct.  As such, most of the time the rightosphere is just a circular sounding board.

Granted, there have been a few moments when we've been more.  Dan Rather & the Bush National Guard records.  The fight over the Arlen Specter judiciary chairmanship.  The Harriet Miers nomination.  The early days of the Fred Thompson pre-candidacy. 

The challenge for the rightosphere is for us to actually work together, and not just be ten thousand individuals moving randomly in varying directions. 

I think things are improving, partly because there seems to be a shift in the center of the conservative blogosphere from simply news and opinion (Captain's Quarters, Instapundit, Power Line) to more activism-focused blogs like RedState, The Next Right, Newsbusters, etc.  But we have a long way still to go.

Who You Are... A Follow Up

First off, thank you for all the wonderful replies to 'Republicans on the Web - Who Are You?'  You showed that their is a cross section of conservatives on the web of different ages, philosopies, and experiences.  As for myself, I am a 33 year old single woman living in New Hampshire.  I write for Blogs4McCain as well as my own sites like McCain Blogger Resources, and NH4McCain.  The main reason I am involved in this election in a way I haven't been before, and why I've become such an avid McCain supporter, is Iraq/foreign policy.  I think this is one of those issues that could effect the US and the world for generations to come, and believe Sentor McCain is by far the most qualified to deal with it.  In general terms my political leanings are libertarian-light, small government, low taxes, stay out of people's lives.  I'm content as an Independent because, while generally right of center, my views don't match up particularly well any one party, third parties included.  Also, while I have gained more of an appreciation for party politics in the last year, I still have a distaste for much of the back and forth the two sides of tend to engage in.

However, I am 'all in' in this election, so back to the original point of the article.  Who are you and how does this relate to the online presence of Republicans?  First, your well educated and may currently may be at school.   Your average age is 32, though I believe I'm the only one in their thirties.  If you are not at school then you are a professional.  Family is probably very important to you.

This may not be a big enough sample to draw grand conclusions from, but it does point to one of the factors that I believe is significant to online politics; Age.  This sample reflects a trend on the internet in general, a large number of twenty something, few thirty somethings, and some forty and fifty somethings.*  The logic behind the small number of thirty somethings is that this is the age bracket when people have young families and careers that consume a huge amount of time, thus limitting their time on internet.  Some of you mentioned time as a factor, and it would make sense that professionals that lean Republican may not be online as much simply due to time constrains. 

People in their late teens and early twenties make up a large chunk of the internet audience, which likely effects the numbers difference between right and left.  However, it also begs further questions about the role of online political movements.  First being who is being influenced?  Is it primarily twenty somethings, or is it also the media?  What are the positives and negatives to having a medium that is primarily seeking twenty somethings?

The main reason for the age questions is that I believe there is an opportunity for the right to be more effective online than the left, even if the numbers are difficult to overcome.  The candidates on the left appear to be pushed even further to the left by the web, into what could possibly be an unelectable possition.  Also, looking at the presidential election the bitterness between Obama and Clinton camps seems to be driven by the online behavior of their supporters (particualrly Obama supporters).  This strikes me as a possible mistake of youth and/or emotion, not recognizing that burning bridges means losing votes.  So my question this time is: What role does age play in online politics, and do you see an opening for conservatives to be more effective online?

*Should have qualified the age breakdown on the web.  That reflects about of time spent browsing/surfing the web not the number of people with internet access/connection.

Republicans on the Web - Who Are You?

Promoted. Who the heck are you people anyway? -Patrick

First off a confession - I'm an Independent and a McCain supporter, I work online but have not been politically active until this election. That being said I'm fascinated by the role of the internet in politics in its current use and its potential for the future, and have many more questions than answers. The basic question being what makes the difference between the left and the right online? 

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