Political activism on the Internet — and in the so-called blogosphere, in particular — has long been considered a liberal stronghold. But conservative bloggers show increasing signs of their own coming of age…
[T]he immigration bill marked the first time conservative Web logs could claim to have targeted and derailed a major piece of legislation. The triumph underscored their increasing influence and signaled that the balance of online power may be evening out in the political arena.
The confluence of blogs and conservatives’ dominance on radio is an especially potent mix. Talk-radio and conservative bloggers don’t always work hand in hand, but they have been effective when they do…
Historically, Republican bloggers haven’t generated the same kind of Internet traffic as liberal writers, even though conservatives have dominated talk radio. The defeat of the immigration bill suggests that may be changing and illustrates the tactics that bloggers could use to influence the 2008 campaign.
It’s an unwritten rule of blogging that credit from the mainstream media must be met with triumphalism, so rare is the occasion and so keen are we to claim importance. I wish I could wave those pompoms but I think Barnett got it right yesterday: right-wing blog readership is so pitifully small that we can’t influence much of anything except when opinion is unusually and passionately united on an issue, in which case Republican legislators might note it as a sort of “early warning system” for how the base at large is going to react. But that’s the extent of it, and even in that case, it’s not quite accurate to say that “right-wing blogs” have influence. Some right-wing blogs have influence — Red State and Powerline in particular from what I hear from friends in Washington, who tell me those are the two that GOP congressmen are dimly aware of. And Instapundit too, of course, and I’m sure the boss’s site got a few looks during this particular debate since she’s famous for her work on the subject. Righties who want to send a message to Congress on some future issue are probably better off treating those four as “feeder blogs” and sending them important links, etc (to the extent they’re not doing so already).
This is all based on the assumption, of course, that Republican legislators care what their constituents think. Which is also, apparently, largely untrue.
I’ll revise my opinion on this subject if and when we help bounce someone in a primary challenge. Ahem.
Update: Dean claims at one point in his post that Rush Limbaugh’s and Sean Hannity’s audiences are 50 times the size of that of the most widely read right-wing blog, i.e., Instapundit. I think the real factor is considerably larger than that. The numbers I usually hear for Limbaugh and Hannity are 15 million listeners; Instapundit does, at last check, about 200,000 hits a day, but of course not all of those are unique visitors. Let’s guesstimate that the uniques are 75,000 and that each one checks his site on average between two and three times a day. That means the actual factor is 200. We’ll cut into that a bit as time goes on but for the widely foreseeable future, it’s night and day.