Dems finally have an advantage - the chaotic back-and-forth that is the Net

Republicans may sit in the White House but they haven't won over the Internet. The Washington Post reportsthat when it comes to Web penetration, Republicans aren't keeping up with Democrats.

Republicans may sit in the White House but they haven't won over the Internet. The Washington Post reportsthat when it comes to Web penetration, Republicans aren't keeping up with Democrats.

According to Nielson/NetRatings and other measurements, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, leads the pack on sites such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. The three top-tier candidates when it comes to raising money online are all Democrats, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama and Edwards, amassing more than $14 million over the Internet in the first three months of 2007. Republicans Giuliani, McCain and Romney, collected less than half of that, $6 million.

"For the most part Republicans are stuck in Internet circa 2000," said David All, a former Republican congressional aide.

Political insiders say the top Republican candidates are just not exciting enough to attract a big Web following. That, coupled with a lack of technical skill and understanding, has meant that "the pool of talent in the Democrats' side is much bigger than ours," when it comes to attracting web strategists. (That's a change.)

It's also possible that the Republican Party and the more chaotic and pluralistic approach to communication just don't mix very well.

"We've always been a party of staying on message," All said. "It's the Rush Limbaugh model. What Tony Snow says in the White House filters down to talk radio, which makes its way to the blogs."

Peter Leyden, director of the New Politics Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank, says that the Democrats are taking full advantage of the Web.

"What was once seen as a liability for Democrats and progressives in the past -- they couldn't get 20 people to agree to the same thing, they could never finish anything, they couldn't stay on message -- is now an asset," Leyden said. "All this talking and discussing and fighting energizes everyone, involves everyone, and gets people totally into it."