Michelle Malkin girds for 2014 GOP civil war

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said Malkin’s conservative media power can certainly translate into real world political influence — as long as she picks the right races to back in 2014. In the Pierson challenge, for example, “Malkin can certainly drive attention to the race, but in that situation it’s an uphill battle” against a well-funded incumbent, he said.

And after the 2010 defeats of Republican senators Bob Bennett and Dick Lugar to tea party challengers, many high-profile incumbents are now “on alert,” O’Connell noted, so Malkin’s influence would be best put to use in lower-profile races where upstart candidates need visibility.

“There’s no question that Michelle Malkin is beloved by the tea party and the conservative grassroots,” he said. “When she talks, they listen. The grassroots listens. It’s a testament to her own tenacity and also the media persona she’s built up.”

Her position in the conservative media world adds up to more than just a multitude of followers. She’s turned her online savvy into the thing most traditional news organizations have been struggling with: making money.