A previous item noted Micah Sifry's post on the relative strength of progressives and conservatives online, but misstated its conclusion: Sifry argues that the left's online base is larger, not that they'll raise more money in this election cycle. Micah Sifry defends himself and the netroots in a new post:
[M]y post wasn't about who is doing better overall politically in 2010. No one needs me to help figure out that question. It was about whose online base is bigger (and whether the Tea Party is as big as is being claimed). I'm not only interested in how many people give and how many people vote--I'm also interested in the size of the online activist pool. That's why metrics like blog readership complicate the picture.
Patrick Ruffini isn't impressed:
You don't need to be an activist, or even terribly savvy politically or technologically, to make your voice heard online nowadays. The tools have gotten so mainstream, and so easy, that the line between an activist and a supporter is blurring.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, we're seeing many candidates whose online fundraising now exceeds their direct mail fundraising. Are these two groups separate and distinct? Has online permanently enlarged the activist pool? Idealistically, we'd like to say yes. But practically speaking, it's probably mostly a matter of grabbing the low-hanging fruit from the offline space who simply find it more convenient to engage online. I would contend that these are no longer two radically different groups of individuals, but the larger base of conservative activists is migrating online. In this way, I don't think you can separate broader political success and enthusiasm from online activism in the way Micah does.