Sad but true, for myriad reasons. The left is hungrier because they’ve been out of power; young adults, who are more likely to be Internet savvy, skew heavily Democratic; between Republican scandals and setbacks in Iraq, conservatives have little to defend; and there just aren’t many GOP leaders who excite the base (Fred! being a glaring exception).
WaPo nods at all that and floats an alternative theory, with an assist from a former Republican congressional aide: our fanatic devotion to message discipline requires us to be stenographers for Tony Snow and Rush Limbaugh, which alienates readers who seek the joyous cacophony of the nutroots’ barnyard symphony.
[A]n underlying cause may be the nature of the Republican Party and its traditional discipline — the antithesis of the often chaotic, bottom-up, user-generated atmosphere of the Internet.
“We’ve always been a party of staying on message,” All said. “It’s the Rush Limbaugh model. What Tony Snow says in the White House filters down to talk radio, which makes its way to the blogs.”…
“What was once seen as a liability for Democrats and progressives in the past — they couldn’t get 20 people to agree to the same thing, they could never finish anything, they couldn’t stay on message — is now an asset,” Leyden said. “All this talking and discussing and fighting energizes everyone, involves everyone, and get people totally into it.”
Patrick Ruffini responds:
[T]he notion that the left-blogs harbor open debate is pretty laughable. On what? The Iraq war? Tax cuts? Name a serious policy issue where Kos, Atrios, Hamsher, and Aravosis disagree.
Yeah, and needless to say, WaPo really picked the wrong week to accuse right-wing blogs of carrying water for Bush. For all the whining Rick Ellensburg and his ilk do about the “Republican noise machine,” no one on the right has issued any diktats to our own candidates on Meet the Press that “They do not undermine the Democratic Party. That’s the litmus test.” Nor was it an outcry from lefty blogs that helped sink Harriet Miers and got Bush to reconsider the Dubai Ports deal. In fact, many of the most highly trafficked right-wing blogs are to the left of the administration and the Republican base on social issues; certainly Instapundit is, as is Charles Johnson, as am I (as disgruntled readers occasionally e-mail to note). That might explain in part why big right-wing sites lag behind big lefties in traffic: except for the boss and our own Bryan Preston, there just aren’t many voices among the very biggest righty sites that resonate with committed social cons on domestic issues, and even MM and BP devote more of their attention to terrorism and immigration than subjects like abortion or gay marriage.
Which brings me to another point. The term “warbloggers” has fallen out of favor as Iraq’s fortunes have declined but I’ve always thought it was in some ways a better description of the right-wing blogosphere than “right-wing blogosphere.” Eric Boehlert used it, with obvious derisive intent, during the Jamil Hussein sniping, but it accurately captures why many conservatives came to blogging — as an outlet after 9/11 to learn more about Islamic fundamentalism and raise awareness about its effect on the politics and culture of the Middle East. That’s still the chief preoccupation of LGF, MM’s two sites, the Jawa Report, and many others, but the downside is that it leaves electoral politics neglected on many big traffic righty blogs (although not all, of course, per the Corner, Red State, Captain Ed, and Hewitt). That’ll evolve a bit as we get closer to 2008, but if you’re wondering why the right hasn’t made more of an effort to organize and push Republicans for congressional seats, etc., this is a big reason why. It’s just not where our passion is. Although President Hillary being sworn in would do wonders to change that.