Why the Right is Winning Online in 2010

Mindy Finn has done a public service in responding to this post by the Personal Democracy Forum's Micah Sifry belittling the online success of the Right and the Tea Party movement in 2010. 

Sifry is someone I consider a friend and genuine believer in the cause of digital democracy whatever our political differences, but he's wrong here. It was PDF, and their TechPresident blog (to which I've contributed) that obsessed over the online gap between Democrats and Republicans in 2008, even popularizing hour-by-hour charts of Facebook fans and Twitter followers to document the extent of Obama's lead over every Republican candidate. At the time, there wasn't much to argue with in these numbers. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, and Republicans have a opened up a lead in voter enthusiasm (which I would argue is inextricably tied to online activism) in 2010, Sifry tries to deny its significance by shifting the debate back to old-style political blog readership or creating straw men by citing inflated membership figures by one of a host of groups claiming leadership of the largely leaderless Tea Party movement. 

As someone who deals directly in Republican political activism and often watches confirmation emails flood my inbox as online money for candidate clients pours in, I don't there's any arguing that the right has at least reached parity with the left and outmatched it in important ways. And as someone who was doing this long before 2010, I can say this very definitely wasn't the case a few years ago. 

The Scott Brown phenomenon is not thought of as an exclusively online phenomenon, but the means by which it happened was largely online: $12 million -- more than 90% of the funds raised by the campaign -- coming in online in 18 days. 

Show me a Democratic Senate candidate in any race who raised that amount in that short of a time. Not Ned Lamont. Not Jim Webb. Not Bill Halter. Though there was a lot to be said for the digital smarts on that campaign, everyone knows that when something like this happens, it's almost purely a function of the collective strength of a party's grassroots rather than anything about the candidate or the campaign. When conservatives resolved themselves to beat Bart Stupak in the 24 hours after his health care vote, his Republican challenger Dr. Dan Benishek didn't even have a website, so they flooded his PayPal account. 

Had opportunities like these presented themselves in 2005 and 2006, I'm not sure that conservatives could have capitalized in the same way. Online fundraising surges on behalf of Republican candidates back then were unheard of, aside from the occasional $10K fundraising drive on RedState or some other blog. Meanwhile, progressive blog triumphalism was its peak. The netroots was raising serious money into highly symbolic special elections, starting with $80K for Ben Chandler in Kentucky back in 2003 and an eye-popping $500K for Paul Hackett in the OH-2 special in 2005. There was a legitimate infrastructure gap that should have had Republicans worried. And in the end, the tsunami finally crashed ashore in 2008. 

In 2010, Republicans have no reason to worry that their base won't be there for them online. Both Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell raised more than $1 million online in the 24 hours after their primary wins. Scott Brown was all of this on steroids. Republicans in every competitive special election have had no problem raising hundreds of thousands of dollars online apiece. And in perhaps the closest thing we have to a head-to-head match up, Joe Wilson caught up and outraised his Democratic challenger in the wake of a massive online mobilization after his "You lie" comment a year ago. 

Meanwhile, the netroots oomph just isn't there anymore. They're not winning primaries at the same rate as the Tea Party. The race they were most invested in, Halter vs. Lincoln, turned into a donnybrook for the movement, like Lieberman vs. Lamont before it. I had to check if there was still a successor to the "netroots candidates" on ActBlue anymore, and there is. It's called Orange to Blue and it's raised $376,000 for a handful of candidates, a far cry from the $2.4 million raised in 2008 and the more than $1.5 million raised by the Netroots Candidates list in 2006. The lack of many discernible Democratic opportunities this year has also meant that they just don't seem to be trying as hard. Most every post I read on the home page of Daily Kos in 2006 had the ubiquitous orange "Donate" and "Volunteer" buttons. No more. 

The lesson: online enthusiasm can't be separated from offline momentum. There is nothing intrinsic about the left or the right that makes one side or the other better online. The left won online in 2008 because it was winning offline. The right is winning online in 2010 because it's winning offline.

 

The facts don't fit the narrative that the netroots has carefully cultivated about why it succeeded early on. This sentiment is best expressed by Andrew Rasiej, Sifry's partner at TechPresident, who said at the height of the left's online momentum in 2007: 

“In a thumbnail way, Republicans have spent the last 30 years building a massive top-down communications infrastructure,” said Andrew Rasiej, founder of techPresident, a group blog that follows how technology is being utilized in the 2008 race.  “The culture of the Internet is completely foreign to them,” he added. “The Internet is all about bottom-up.” 

Of course, this caricature of conservatives as mindless rubes who do as they're told has been shown up by the massive revolt against the Republican establishment that's had real world electoral consequences in virtually every major primary this year. I think we can consign this particular left-wing conceit to the dustbin of history. 

Perhaps, the left will do better when they have something to believe in again. But for right now, I think you have to hand this round to the Republicans. 

 

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Comments

Its also about Candidates being a motivating factor

McCain was more of the same RINO's in 2008, and then the Media was forced into covering the VP Sarah Palin nominee.   Palin was a motivating candidate for the Conservatives, but the top of the ticket, Juan McCain, was NOT.

Fast forward to today's "you lie" millionaires, and the witchcraft millionaires, and the Palin Effect, and the Tea Party 912 DC appearance, and you have candidates suddenly coming out of the woodwork that can catch ANY incumbent in a "Race to DC".

Some Political News hit your E-mail, hit your car radio, only to be ignored on your TV.  But ...then you started seeing political news on FOX the day after it hit your E-mail.   Then you started finding the Video's on Facebook, the video's of the campaign promises, followed by the video's of the lies of the TOTUS.   Soon, you quit watching the Alphabet networks because you knew they were lying like the TOTUS, and the networks were editing the Couric/Palin interviews along wih committing the "Sins of Omission".   Its what they were NOT covering that made your Blog news and hit your E-mail.  

Then the Attacks on Palin morphed into the "Racist Tea Partiers", but even the Tea Party Videos made your E-mail, and the orchestrated attacks becames personal, Americans became "angry", and the push back against the JournOlistas started.   Americans are the Tea Party Patriots, and the term "Baggers" is what they're about, Bagging DC in November and turning Congress into a representative Government.

 

 

But the Gallup GC Poll has moved +11 Dem in less than a month...

Any polling to show C O''D has a chance in DE, Don Maes in CO, &, oh, I forgot, waz'  iz name fur congruss in Weschester--the NYS R PTY ask  him to w/d in Weschester County (.  .  .  an article about miscengenation in the august OCCIDENTAL  QUARTERLY .  .  . ?)

Luv

Crow

 

You're being set up Crow

Its Obama Media TV, Blog, NYT, and Gallup JournOlistas are setting you up, its the "Democrat Comeback" from the dead propaganda.   

Based upon what ?  Not the Health Care Bill, Not the Unemployment Jobs good news, Not the Capture/Killing of Osama Bin Laden, What exactly are the Democrats campaigning on that would capture the imagination of the Voters ?   

Is it that Hopey, Changey thing ?  

Riiiight

So, any move towards the Right is real, but any move to the Left is bogus?  Ya, I think I get it now..

According to Gallup, its a matter of Trust

according to Gallup:

For the fourth straight year, the majority of Americans say they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. The 57% now saying this is a record high by one percentage point. …

Trust in the media is now slightly higher than the record-low trust in the legislative branch but lower than trust in the executive and judicial branches of government, even though trust in all three branches is down sharply this year. These findings also further confirm a separate Gallup poll that found little confidence in newspapers and television specifically.

Nearly half of Americans (48%) say the media are too liberal, tying the high end of the narrow 44% to 48% range recorded over the past decade. One-third say the media are just about right while 15% say they are too conservative. Overall, perceptions of bias have remained quite steady over this tumultuous period of change for the media, marked by the growth of cable and Internet news sources. Americans’ views now are in fact identical to those in 2004, despite the many changes in the industry since then.

 

As low as approval of D's is in many polls, R approval is

usually about 10 pts lower.

Not so Sure

The Right is winning.  They may be catching up, Patrick, as the work you and other well-funded GOP infrastructure architects bears fruit.

But this cycle, as you well know, a clown pulling a red cart marked GIVE TO YOUR GOP CANDIDATE would have pulled in buckets of money.

The REAL test will be in 2012, when a dispirited, divided, fractured Right tries to run against an outraged, energized, motivated Left, and a charismatic, inspiring President Obama.

I believe the Right will be in trouble, after seeing its fondest hopes of Tea Party candidates unelected, and those candidates who WERE elected having shown everyone exactly how much they despise Government and posting huge FAILS at governing. 

Palin, Coburn, Demint, Bachmann, and Pence, among others, will tear the Right apart.

not sure if that's a prediction of the future, or a forecast

Predicting in 2012 of a "dispirited, divided, fractured Right" ......Wow, based upon what ?   Sounds like it takes one to know one, and right now the fractured left is leaving DC. 

The Rats in DC are bailing, the Exodous has started, 2 economic advisors, Rahm, and after Nov. 2 another 1500 Democrat staffers are getting the boot along with their Bosses.   As  for your "Charismatic, inspiring President Obama", you'd better get a grip on the Bar-b-Que circuit Obama has been on the past week, he's losing his inspiration one backyard at a time, people are showing up exhausted defending his failures. 

 

Based on

the fracture between the mainstream GOP, which has been assaulted by the Tea Party GOP time after time, race after race.  Ask Mike Castle and Lisa Murkowski how they feel about their GOP.

Dispirited because the Tea Party anger at Washington politicians cannot  be satisfied by electing frauds like Rand Paul and Joe Miller, because they think they are sending these folks to Congress to change the status quo, and that is just not going to happen. 

Dismayed when they find out the Tea Party was a corporate-funded, special-interest vehicle all along, and Washington business as usual is going on.

Disappointed when they see the Tea Party candidates who get elected are going to get busy meeting with lobbyists and special interests to collect the monies they will need to get re-elected as soon as their phone lines are enabled..

The candidates are going to find out that standing on principle and eliminating spending is not going to be so easy when the folks back home want projects brought into their districts, along with badly-needed jobs, not Tea Party attitude and platitudes.

And then there's Sharon Angle's interview . . .

 Out of deference, I'm not linking to the GREAT ORANGE SEITAN  .  .  .  .

At what COST do people want projects in their districts ?

You claim everyone wants PORK in their districts.   At what cost is PORK spending "Wanted", $ 30,000 per every man, woman, and child in the United states ?

When should the Borders be Secured, at what point is Illegal Immigration a problem.....100,000 per year ?   1 Million per year ?  25 million per year ?

Americans have reached their Economic breaking point, that is what the Tea Party is all about, Smaller government, less cost, less taxes, more freedom.......back to the Bush Years, not the 4 years of failed Pelosi policies (2007-2010).