The Hurricane and the Netroots
by Chris Bowers, Tue Sep 06, 2005 at 05:50:32 PM EDT
Almost every political news blog has experienced an increase in traffic over the past week. However, once again, the progressive blogosphere and netroots have experienced significantly larger traffic gains than their conservative rival. Looking at the one-hundred most trafficked blogs and netroots sites, as measured in August and today, the progressive advantage is obvious:
Page Views Per Week, Top 100 Partisan Blogs Pro Con Pro Edge Aug 13,493,723 8,222,088 64.1% Sep 18,149,949 8,881,619 104.4% Gain 34.5% 8.0%(I left Democratic Underground out of this study and removed it from the August study, both because I am unable to find accurate information on their weekly page views and because Free Republic wasn't added to either, so its only fair).
Both in addition to and beyond factors I have already discussed, I believe that the continuing rise in the progressive blogosphere relative to the conservative blogosphere is primarily indicative of the relatively greater importance of the progressive blogosphere within progressive media as compared to the position of the conservative blogosphere in conservative media. When a big news story like Katrina breaks, everyone turns to the news, including the ideological news. However, conservatives already own a daunting media empire, within which their new blogosphere plays a fairly small role. Thus, generally speaking, conservatives are turning to other conservative sources of conservative news than the conservative blogosphere. By contrast, the blogosphere is playing a foundational role in the development of progressive media, and when progressives are turning to alternative sources of news, they are turning to the progressive blogosphere as much as they are turning anywhere else. It is in this way that the conservative media empire, developed before the explosion of the internet, is actually serving as a drag on the growth of the conservative blogosphere, despite the tremendous impact it is having upon more traditional media outlets. In the struggle for conservative market share, the conservative blogosphere is struggling.
Total Number of Blogs
I have long reported that one of the strengths of the conservative blogosphere was its local focus, as evidenced by the greater importance of smaller blogs within the conservative blogosphere. However, that advantage is showing clear signs of decline:
Total number of websites in top 100 Pro Con Last Point of Equilibrium Jul 44 56 74 Aug 45 55 82 Sep 51 49 104There has been a gradual increase in the total number of progressive sites in the top one-hundred most trafficked blogs and netroots websites. While conservative still hold an edge in the top 250, that edge is waning. In fact, for the first time, progressive sites now outnumber conservative sites in the top 100. The point where conservative blogs begin to push past progressive blogs in terms of total number has been consistently pushed back. In July, conservatives took the lead and never looked back at blog number 75. In August, they took the lead for good at 83, but now it is only at number 105 where conservatives take the lead for good. In the world of smaller blogs, liberals are gaining big time ground.
Rich Get Richer
In both blogospheres, most of the gain in total audience size has been primarily to the benefit of the top tier blogs. On the progressive side, Dailykos accounts for more than 40% of the total gain in audience size. The top six liberal blogs in both the August and September studies, Dailykos, Talking Points Memo, Raw Story, Eschaton, Crooks and Liars and Americablog, received 71.1% of the entire progressive traffic increase from August to September. These six blogs now make up 61.7% of progressive traffic in the top 100, up from 58.3% in September. Incidentally, all six of these blogs now have more traffic than Instapundit, which remains the highest trafficked conservative blog.
Things are even worse on the conservative side. Outside of the top seven conservative blogs, which experienced a nice 22.3% increase in traffic from August to September, conservative traffic in the top 100 actually decreased slightly. Aristocratic Right-Wing Blogosphere Stagnating indeed. Looks like it's time to start demonstrating more memos are forged fellas.
While the progressive blogosphere is leaving the conservative blogosphere far, far behind in terms of audience size, the hurricane may have revealed the underlying activist potential of the conservative blogosphere. While the liberal blog fundraising drive for Katrina victims has yet to reach $200,000, the conservative blogosphere has put together more than $1.2M. Certainly, progressive blog readers have given a lot more than the $200K in the coordinated fundraising drive through direct contributions to the Red Cross and other sources not counted in the drive, while the conservative blog drive is based on self-declared donations to all sources, so the comparison may not be valid. Also, not all of the conservative blogs listed in the TTLB drive are conservative, like wonkette. Still, this may be a sign that the conservative blogosphere will experience a major breakthrough in 2006-2008, and finally become a force to be reckoned with in Republican politics. To date, they have not done much in this area, but that could change.
Update: Story edited to better reflect the differences between the two charity drives.