Why The Right Side Of The Blogosphere Makes A Bigger Impact Than The Left Side

Lefty blogger Chris Bowers from MyDD has done a long & thoughtful post on the way the blogosphere breaks down ideologically based on Blogads traffic rankings. Here’s the crux of the data collection that Bowers has done:

“For the survey, I looked at the two hundred and fifty most trafficked, politically focused blogs on the Blogads traffic rankings that could be justifiably classified as either “right” or “left” wing. According to my survey, the 103 of those blogs that could best be described as leftist or left-leaning had a total of 10,354,755 page views per week. By contrast, the 147 blogs that could be justifiably classified as “rightist” or “right-wing,” totaled 6,833,019 page views a week. This amounts to a 51.5% advantage for the left-wing blogs, which is slightly lower than the 62.7% advantage I found last month.

….I did find was an undeniable conservative advantage in conservative blogosphere sprawl outside the top sixty-six blogs.

…The conservative advantage in smaller blog traffic is tremendous. In fact, for blogs ranked 67-250, conservatives hold a whopping 1,469,730 to 861,827 weekly page view lead over progressive blogs (70.5%). Even more stunningly, the conservative blogs ranked 67-250 make up 21.5% of all conservative blogosphere traffic, while the liberal blogs ranked 67-250 make up only 8.3% of all liberal blogosphere traffic–a five to two edge in favor of conservatives. Clearly, smaller blogs are a much, much more important part of the conservative blogosphere than they are a part of the liberal blogosphere.

Those are certainly interesting statistics — well, at least for us blogging junkies — but that’s not what I primarily want to talk about.

After compiling all those nifty stats, Bowers went way out on a very thin branch in an attempt to analyze what the data means:

“Now, right now you may be asking why this is important. Who cares if conservatives are leading among smaller blogs–that means that liberal blogs have an even larger lead among large blogs, right? While that is certainly true, it is also true that the smaller a blog tends to be, the more locally focused it tends to be. For a party obsessed with running a fifty-state strategy, and with a midterm election coming up where all politics are indeed local, an edge among small, local, political blogs also means an edge in small, local, political races. While progressives may be taking a decisive edge in general blogosphere discourse, it could also be argued that conservatives are taking a decisive advantage in targeted blogging that will provide them with real, tangible benefits in the 2005-2006 elections.”

This is really an odd take that Bowers has on the conservative blogosphere, for a number of reasons, beginning with this statement: “The smaller a blog tends to be, the more locally focused it tends to be.” Say what? Almost every blog starts small and (hopefully) builds up traffic. So small doesn’t equal “locally focused.”

Furthermore — take it from someone who knows the right side of the blogosphere extremely well — percentage wise there just aren’t all that many significant right-of-center blogs that spend a lot of time hammering “local issues.”

That’s because blogs tend to draw traffic from a wide geographic region and, quite frankly, somebody from Virginia or Oregon couldn’t care less about the latest political happenings in, let’s say, New Hampshire or Texas.

If you want to know why conservative blogs, despite drawing less traffic, have had a much bigger overall impact over the last few years than liberal blogs, you need look no further than the ideological make-up of the mainstream media and the left side of the blogosphere.

While, I will grant you that the lefty bloggers tend to be more liberal than their counterparts in the MSM, they’re still close together ideologically. That means whether you’re talking about Kos & Seymour Hersh, Bowers & Rather, or Atrios & Dana Milbank, they look at the world in much the same way, are outraged by many of the same things, & tend to have the same biases.

So if we’re talking about a story that fascinates the left side of the blogosphere, it probably caught the attention of the mainstream media at the same time and the MSM has the resources and contacts to cover it more thoroughly. The two exceptions to that have been the unimportant Jeff Gannon story and the Downing Street Memo, which is never going to amount to anything. In those two cases, the MSM could have taken those stories and run with them, but they weren’t interested enough to do so (*** Some people might also include the Trent Lott story, but it was Instapundit, not any of the liberal blogs that did most of the heavy lifting on that one ***).

On the other hand, when you compare conservatives and the liberal dominated MSM, you find that we don’t look at the world in the same way, we’re outraged by different things, and we have different biases. The very stories that helped put the conservative blogosphere on the map in 2004 — Memogate, Eason Jordan, & the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, for example — were all stories the MSM and the left side of the blogosphere would have completely ignored had it not been for the buzz produced by the right side of the blogosphere, talk radio, and conservative magazines.

So it’s not dealing with local politics that gives an advantage. Instead, ironically, the fact that the right side of the blogosphere is out of step with the mainstream media is perhaps a big advantage because it gives us an opportunity to cover stories that the MSM misses because of their ideological blinders.

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