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Does Twitter favor conservatives?

August 24, 2009 |  8:22 am

California State Senate candidate Edward Paul Reyes, working with a colleague on his twitter page at a local Starbucks in Los Angeles on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009

The White House announced with some fanfare over the weekend that its Twitter account had passed the 1 million mark.

“A million followers – nice,” the White House @whitehouse wrote in a tweet sent out Sunday afternoon. “What would you like to see more of from this feed? Photos? Quotes? Cowbell? Tell us @whitehouse.”

Big deal. 

Arizona Sen. John McCain, who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 election, passed the 1 million mark six weeks ago. He declared that tweeting, which for him was novel, was "a phenomenal way of communicating."

Like most things that come out of Silicon Valley, Twitter was assumed to be in a purview of the left, another tool for tech-savvy liberal netroots to use as they besieged the political system in the name of progressive change, in 140-character bites.

But the left has usually used Twitter to promote ideas, according to Alan Rosenblatt, of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. "We have a lot of amazing progressives on Twitter," he told Maine's online news source, the Exception.  But, he added, there had been "nothing that brings everyone together."

By contrast, he said, the right has been using Twitter to create new pressure points in politics. Conservatives have a website, Top Conservatives on Twitter, that ranks various right-wing tweeters (former House Speaker Newt Gingrich currently rides on top), and offers pointers on how to organize.

Liberals are fighting back -- Rosenblatt has created a rival website, TopProg.org -- but it's in its infancy.

Meanwhile conservatives seem to be having more fun with Twitter.

When Republicans staged a protest last summer and refused to leave for summer recess, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi simply adjourned the session and turned out the lights, effectively turning off the C-SPAN cameras. So several GOP stalwarts started tweeting an account of what was going on from the House floor. They developed a following and prompted conservative commentator Michelle Malkin to call Twitter "the new gathering place for conservative activism.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: California Democratic State Senate candidate Edward Paul Reyes works with a colleague on his Twitter page recently at a Los Angeles Starbucks. Credit: Associated Press

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