High-profile pundits such as the Fox News Channel’s ubiquitous Dick Morris have alleged that the left has taken over the internet and enjoys an advantage there similar to the edge that conservatives have in talk radio.
These observers usually offer no evidence to support this claim beyond the observation that there is more feedback on the liberal sites. At least one wag has posited that liberals can provide such input because they are unencumbered by full-time employment.
Certain statistics drawn from internet search engines just might not concur with the real evidence. In three separate searches conducted on web giants Google, Yahoo, and AOL, to find the disparity between politically conservative and liberal weblogs, the number of liberal weblogs outnumbered their conservative counterparts. Yahoo reported a disparity between the numbers 24,100,000 and 24,400,000, in favor of the liberal blogs. Google reported 9,720,000 liberal weblogs to 5,610,000 conservative weblogs—a gap of over 4 million. AOL listed 943,000 liberal weblogs to 681,000 conservative ones.
However, when the search was detailed as between “right-wing” and “left-wing” weblogs, the numbers switched around. Each site reported a greater number of “right-wing” weblogs than those affiliated with left-wing politics, Yahoo reporting the greatest disparity at just under 6 million.
The question remains. Does the liberal agenda own the voice of the internet today, or is there a steady balance in internet news logs? Also, is the demand high for either affiliation of weblogs? A detailed study produced by Lada Adamic in the Hewlett-Packard labs in California was conducted jointly with Natalie Glance of Intelliseek. The study detailed “The Political Blogosphere and the 2004 Election: Divided They Blog,” was conducted to answer questions about political weblogs, their number, popularity, and inter-connection on the web.
In 2004, a Pew Internet study reported that 63 million U.S. citizens relied on the internet to keep informed on politics. The study collected data from various blog directories and visited the home page of each internet blog, finding 30 more political blogs. There were 676 total liberal blogs compared with 659 conservative blogs. Indeed, a sampling of major blog directories concurs with the evidence. Liberal blogs do slightly outnumber conservative blogs in the “blogosphere.”
The report continued to study the details of the political blogs on the web. Conservative blogs do tend to provide links, especially amongst each other, more often than liberal blogs, creating a more interconnected forum. Also, collecting information from the directory BlogPulse, the report showed that between August and November of 2004, the crucial election season, liberal blogs had 16% more posts than conservative blogs, though the right-wingers cited each other 40% more.
The exact number of visitors to the various blogs is not strictly known, though the liberal blogs do enjoy an advantage in the number of posts. The popular liberal blogs are visited for a greater average amount of time, marked especially by the average visit time of top liberal weblog Hullabaloo (2 hours, 15 minutes) and another noted liberal weblog (1 hour, 42 minutes).
Though official evidence is lacking, it has been suggested that conservative weblogs do entertain a greater number of visitors, but the liberal weblogs lead in the number of overall blogs coupled with the number of overall posts. “Blogging” on the internet is fast becoming wildly popular, and with the advent of the 2008 Presidential election, may very well serve as a deciding factor for the victorious side. Other sites such as youtube.com have already become publicity forums for the candidates to discuss and debate political and social issues.
Elliott Bachus and Matt Hadro were interns this summer with the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.