Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Addressing the Liberal-Conservative Web Gap

There is a lot of worrying in conservative circles about the liberal dominance of the Internet. It’s hard to argue that that is not the case—the Huffington Post is a major Internet player, and sites like the Daily Kos and MyDD get many more visitors than equivalent conservative sites. And the difference in tone between liberal and conservative sites are striking—conservative websites usually consist of commentary and analysis, while liberal sites take a more strategic, what-you-can-do tone. Basically, the conservative web presence consists of aspiring George Will’s, while the liberal side is full of David Alexrod’s.

This worries many conservatives, who feel that the conservative movement is being left behind by technology. Barack Obama’s web campaign was much better than McCain’s—he got hundreds of millions of dollars from online donors, and created a whole network of like minded people. McCain’s web organization was reasonably good (it released some clever web ads and featured Michael Goldfarb), but was nowhere near as effective as Obama’s. McCain’s web presence seemed to be a secondary part of his campaign, while Obama made the Internet one of the cornerstones of his.

Many, such as Patrick Ruffini, think that the Right needs to shift direction. Ruffini (as anyone who reads The Next Right knows) distains punditry and thinks that conservative bloggers need to think strategically, as opposed to analytically, in order to make up the web gap.

It’s impossible to know for sure, but it seems to me likely that the web gap isn’t a product of ideology, but rather of demographics. The Internet population is composed disproportionally of young people. The most popular websites (Facebook, ESPN.com, YouTube) cater to a youthful audience. Internet memes (LOLcats, ninjas, pirates) are the sort of things that are the product of a less mature generation. Even writing styles used by bloggers is characteristic of young people—short, punchy posts, lots of lists, plenty of variety.

And young people tend to be Democrats. So naturally, they gravitate to sites like the Huffington Post and Daily Kos, where they can find similar points of view. The Democrat dominance of the Internet is inevitable as long as it consists mostly of young people.

A similar situation can be found in the case of talk radio. The Republican base consists largely of middle-aged people with jobs and senior citizens. Talk radio fills both of those niches—old folks don’t have anything better to do, and middle-aged people have fairly set schedules. Liberal talk radio will never (at least in the near future) succeed, and not just because it can’t seem to find any talented hosts. The demographics are wrong.

This is not to imply that conservative shouldn’t bother with the Internet—it’s a wonderful resource, and not all Internet inhabitants are Democrats. Sites like National Review Online, Drudge Report, and Instapundit, while lacking (with the exception of Drudge) the impressive hit totals of their liberal counterparts, still have the ability to drive stories and provide analysis. Sites like the The Next Right can be effectively create new strategies for the GOP. The Web can be a useful tool for conservatives—but it’s unreasonable to expect it to be as effective for Republicans as it is for Democrats.

And fortunately, eventually the two sides will even out. As the Internet becomes more ubiquitous, more and more older people will realize its possiblies. And as first-generation Internet users will get older, and some will inevitably slide over to the Republican side. Eventually, most of the population will be online, and then the Internet population will reflect the population-at-large’s political views.

12 Comments:

At November 20, 2008 at 6:55 AM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

Conservatives have proven their internet capabilities. We need only look to Ron Paul's presidential campaign for evidence of that.

 
At November 20, 2008 at 7:46 AM , Blogger Napqueen said...

whoaaaaaaa!! another clueless idiot who would have guessed it, beam that idiot up scotty

WHO’S MANIPULATING THE MEDIA?? Again, whatever the neocons claim, believe the opposite. Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago Rummy called people who didn’t buy his particular brand of bullshit, “fascists”….this is the pot calling the kettle black.
By the way, someone please throw Rush a banana. If you don’t he may sling his crap at you……oh yeah….he already did. He opened his mouth and spoke.

 
At November 20, 2008 at 2:12 PM , Anonymous Strom Thurmond said...

napqueen you are the most clueless person I have ever had the "pleasure" of laughing at...

 
At November 20, 2008 at 3:38 PM , Blogger Napqueen said...

Strom Thurmond You should talk!

Of all the Anonymous names in the world to pick YOU picked a dumb assed one like Strom Thurmond!

 
At November 21, 2008 at 9:05 AM , Blogger road warrior said...

I agree with soapboxgod, republicans have plenty of internet capabilities. I spend a lot of time on-line and i think the representation of the liberal illuminati might be slightly more, but only slightly! The crazy conservatives have plenty of representation.

 
At November 22, 2008 at 6:01 AM , Blogger Bob said...

The issue can be easily characterized as conservative-vs. ... political organizations also could give politicians too much influence in religious affairs such as the birth control and abortion issue..

 
At November 28, 2008 at 8:34 PM , Blogger road warrior said...

bob are you serious? "religious issues such at birth control and abortion". Are you serious? I am a christian, pretty religious and i FULLY understand that these issues are not owned by the religious right! i disagree with the liberal illuminati on these issues and i think they are moral issues but they are obviously issues that not only need to be dealt with on the religious front by churches and religious people but they need to be dealt with on a political front because these are now solely religious issues.

 
At November 29, 2008 at 1:25 PM , Blogger knowitall said...

The conservatives know how to use the web, and they have begun to do so. The elitist illuminati just targeted the free-thinking sites, that's all.

 
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