Readership of major liberal blogs declined in 2007 while conservative blog readership increased

It has long been understood that the largest liberal blogs have generally produced more web traffic than the largest conservative blogs. But I have noticed a general trend over the past few months that I didn’t want to write about until the end of the year. After surveying the traffic stats of many major political blogs, I found that web traffic for several major liberal blogs either declined sharply or stayed the same while major conservative blogs saw a sharp increase in traffic.

For consistency, I only included blogs that used the Sitemeter web traffic measurer. For each blog, I added up the web visits (sometimes referred to as unique visitors, though this term can be misleading) of the first six months and the next six months. After tallying up these figures I compared them to see if the blog’s readership increased or decreased. With liberal blogs, I consistently saw decreases, some of which were quite sharp. For the conservative blogs, I saw a significant increase in the number of visits.

Now, it’s very difficult to make conclusions based on these findings. It could be that the liberal blogosphere is experiencing a Long Tail effect, meaning that readers of liberal blogs are spreading out over a larger range of websites. And though liberal blogs showed a sharp decline in web visits during 2007, this isn’t to say that their overall visits didn’t increase compared to 2006 — it’s hard to say, since Site Meter only tracks the previous 13 months.

Either way, it is certainly an interesting trend. Below you’ll see my findings, first with major liberal blogs and then major conservative blogs.

LIBERAL BLOGS

Daily Kos:

Total visits for first half of 2007: 87,373,521
Total visits for second half of 2007: 86,994,331
A decrease of 379,190, or .4%

Daily kos traffic

Crooks and Liars:

Total visits for first half of 2007: 29,670,556
Total visits for second half of 2007: 29,296,242
A decrease of 374,314, or 1%

crooks and liars traffic

Eschaton/Atrios

Total visits for first half of 2007: 18,376,378
Total visits for second half of 2007: 15,025,963
A decrease of 3,350,415, or 18%

atrios traffic

Fire Dog Lake:

Total visits for first half of 2007: 13,558,479
Total visits for second half of 2007: 9,940,658
A decrease of 3,617,821, or 27%

fire dog lake traffic

Hullabaloo/Digby:

Total visits for first half of 2007: 4,807,916
Total visits for second half of 2007: 4,557,295
A decrease of 250,621, or 5%

Digby traffic

CONSERVATIVE BLOGS

Instapundit:

Total visits for first half of 2007: 31,950,398
Total visits for second half of 2007: 36,729,803
An increase of 4,779,405, or 15%

instapundit traffic

Michelle Malkin:

Total visits for first half of 2007: 18,734,829
Total visits for second half of 2007: 24,435,479
An increase of 5,700,650, or 30%

Michelle malkin stats

Hot Air:

Total visits for first half of 2007: 18,272,454
Total visits for second half of 2007: 24,566,481
An increase of 6,294,027, or 34%

hot air traffic

Red State:

Total visits for first half of 2007: 4,276,010
Total visits for second half of 2007: 4,980,036
An increase of 704,026, or 16%

red state traffic

Right Wing News:

Total visits for first half of 2007: 1,764,729
Total visits for second half of 2007: 1,783,724
An increase of 18,995, or 1%

right wing news traffic

27 Comments

  1. Bubba Says:

    It may be that liberal readers are checking out the right’s debate, certainly much more entertaining than the left. I did note that you did not include any of the “liberal” blogs I read first: TPM, Washington Monthly, Glenn Greenwald.

  2. Simon Says:

    Bubba, that’s because those blogs don’t use sitemeter, at least not in an open-to-the-public format. I had to remain consistent in my observations.

  3. TLB Says:

    Actually:

    http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=s18washingtonmonthly&r=36

    As for FDL, even “liberals” get tired of being screeched to.

  4. TID Says:

    Maybe this is due to more conservatives finally figuring out how to use their computers.

    I also feel that with the liberals and Dems in full blown ascendency, that many liberals were too busy working elections or were simply not as fired up as they have been in the past, while conservatives were running to blogs desperately trying to figure out what to do and what to think as their fortunes crumbled.

  5. The Gay Recluse Says:

    Interesting findings. This is a ridiculous generalization, but I think many liberals become more easily fatigued with the constant barrage and shrill tone of political debate, and often lack the conviction of conservatives to really “shout-down” the opposition. (It’s the same reason there’s really no left-wing alternative to Fox News: the format itself is inherently unsatifisying to anyone who feels comfortable admitting some doubt about what’s the proper course of action, whereas a true liberal will entertain and analyze all options.) Thus liberals — natural doubters that we are — tend to drift away from such sites, whereas conservatives — who demand constant reinforcement of their world view — coagulate and reinforce each other in their delusional view of the world.

  6. Simon Says:

    TLB,

    Whoops, good catch. It looks like the general trend carries at Washington Monthly as well.

  7. Hart Williams Says:

    Wow. Righties can … READ?

    Who’d a thunk?

  8. Liberal Values Says:

    Liberal Values Escapes Trend Of Reduced Readers at Liberal Blogs

    There’s been some interest around the blogosphere in a report at Blogasm comparing readership at liberal and conservative blogs:
    It has long been understood that the largest liberal blogs have generally produced more web traffic than the largest …

  9. Easter Lemming Says:

    Kos discusses this and notes that with the new RSS feeds you may need to add up to 9 million readers a month. Of course, even without the feeds DailyKos has numbers conservatives can only droll over.

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/1/2/0758/00688/154/429030

  10. Dave Schuler Says:

    The methodology is flawed. You need to track last year vs. this year not the first six months of this year against the second six months. You could be tracking seasonal variation.

    It’s further complicated by the fact that 2006 was an election year.

    I’m not saying that your conclusion isn’t correct just that you can’t reach that conclusion with any confidence using your method.

  11. Simon Says:

    Re: Dave

    What “conclusion” are you talking about? I specifically say in my post that I’m not drawing any conclusions from my findings specifically because of the reasons you cite — my lack of access to stats from previous years.

  12. Cernig Says:

    Looking at your graphs it seems overall liberal blogs peaked in mid-Summer then declined, while overall conservative ones peaked in October then declined. The lead up to Petreaus’ report and the aftermath.

    Atrios’ infamous blogroll purge in February had an effect I see, as did the much-anticipated Scooter Libby verdict – anticlimactically – on FDL’s traffic.

    Regards, C

  13. Simon Says:

    Re: Cernig

    Your guesses correlate with mine. I figured that FDL had a big boost in early 2007 because of their coverage of the Libby trial. In fact, that first half of 2007 had a lot of scandal coverage that probably drove a good bit of traffic to liberal blogs. For instance, Talking Points Memo was the blog that broke the attorney-firings scandal

  14. Tom Maguire Says:

    Maybe this is due to more conservatives finally figuring out how to use their computers.

    My guess is that libs who support Edwards have lost their jobs, their homes, and their internet connections. Other than at the local Starbucks, of course.

    Kos posted five years of data; he has a regular October mini-peak even in non-election years. My guess is that, rather than think of October as high, we should think of November and December as low, due to holidays.

    FWIW, the Times dropped their Select Wall in September, which may have redirected some left-leaning traffic.

  15. jukeboxgrad Says:

    Power Line is sort of conspicuous by their absence. Their numbers are available, and show a decline of 4%.

    Total visits for first half of 2007: 10,021,715
    Total visits for second half of 2007: 9,612,661
    An decline of 409,054, or 4%

    http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=s15rocketman&r=36

  16. Rick Calvert Says:

    EL makes a very astute observation. I think it is a safe bet to say liberals are adopting RSS feeds ahead of conservatives and that may “may” account for some of the traffic declines.

  17. Simon Says:

    Hmm, I’m not sure why I left Powerline out, I seem to remember checking to see if their stats were available. Perhaps my eyes skipped over it?

  18. jukeboxgrad Says:

    It was probably just an oversight. No big deal. You did a nice job pulling all this data together.

  19. ChenZhen Says:

    This reminds me of the semi-scientific research I did last year when I set out to determine the number of conservative bloggers vs. liberal bloggers who refer to themselves as “pundit”. Interestingly, I think the ratio was like 10:1.

    Whatever that tells you.

  20. nolocontendere Says:

    Crooks & Liars December decline easily explained – the writers strike dried up all the Daily Show videos.

  21. Cinder Says:

    Simon,

    I would be interested in seeing the profiles or “demograhics” of conservative and liberal readers. For instance, average age of conservative reader and average age of liberal reader, socioeconomic status, sexual preference, marital status, etc. Is there such an animal out there?

  22. Rigged Says:

    Accurate or inaccurate as your study may be, it’s 100% hilarious watching left wing commenters tie themselves in knots trying to explain it all away. Keep it up!

  23. Dave Says:

    It’s interesting but incomplete as previous readers noted. If you’re not keeping track of rss feeds, that’s a gotcha. What’s also interesting is the tone that libs display in the comments toward republicans/conservatives. Why so grouchy? I don’t throw ad hocs at you guys.

  24. Michaelis Says:

    Here’s more knot tying: I think there is something in the “Long Tail” explanation. Myself as an example: DailyKos has become more and more a “Clusterf*ck to the White House” site, focusing heavily on the presidential nominee races. I appreciate that focused coverage and discussion, and the site is one of my favorite tools. But I’ve dramatically moved to smaller sites to focus on local (State) information and on-the-ground organization.

    For what it’s worth Ad Hoc means “to the thing”. An irrelevant personal attack on someone’s character rather than their argument is Ad Hominem, “to the man”.

  25. Bloggasm » Political blog traffic up an average of 48% for first of half of 2008 Says:

    [...] January I reported that major conservative blogs had increased their visits in 2007 while liberal blogs saw an overall [...]

  26. Gus Says:

    Not surprising, intelligent people don’t want to read the hate mongering from liberal blogs. Intelligent people want to read the “facts” so they can make up their own minds.

  27. joe gelb Says:

    im a bit sick of politics at the moment. ive noticed that many major site traffics are tailing off like people are finding new things and more specific niches, more interesting social sites or moving away from blogs to things like video games, or sites more orientated as engiens rather than producer sites


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