Saw this Pew report on the "internet news audience" - roughly a quarter of all Americans, a bit younger and more educated than the population as a whole. Seems they're skeptical of mainstream media:
The internet news audience is particularly likely to criticize news organizations for their lack of empathy, their failure to "stand up for America," and political bias. Roughly two-thirds (68%) of those who get most of their news from the internet say that news organizations do not care about the people they report on, and 53% believe that news organizations are too critical of America. By comparison, smaller percentages of the general public fault the press for not caring about people they report on (53%), and being too critical of America (43%).I did notice they got a little more excited about the Youtube debates, though. If this group actually heads to the polls this November, we're going to see a lot more of that sort of thing. If they consistently raise money for candidates the way the Democratic political blogs are now, the Internet will start becoming the focus, and not the "add-on," of political mass communication. It will be a simple matter of going where the audience is. The Republicans better get smart fast on this, or they'll be left behind.
I remember a conversation I had with a conservative political activist and blogger. He used to work on the Hill, he's ahead of the curve when it comes to blogging, and I like him. He made a casual comment about the money being raised on a liberal political blog for a Democratic congressional candidate in a rural, midwest district - they raised about $30K in a couple of weeks. "That's such a miniscule amount of money," he said. "It's what we raise for a single table at an RNC fundraiser." And ultimately, that candidate lost.
But that candidate is back. And he has a broader, deeper list of support this time. And the Republicans are finding themselves defending seats where they hadn't expected to - last cycle it was Senate seats in Missouri, Virginia and Montana. This cycle it will be congressional districts in the mountain west and - mark my words - a handful of districts in places like Florida and even Texas.
I'm shocked the Republicans haven't invested more in this - there's no doubt in my mind they can do it as well as the Democrats can. It may be because the 15 people at the fundraiser table want to maintain their power in the party, and know they won't have it if the Republicans can get money from other sources. Regardless, the advantage Democrats may enjoy now is temporary - unless they're still the only ones engaging voters online in 2 years.