It wasn’t long before Republican Sen. John McCain transformed from self-described Internet “illiterate” to tweet fanatic once it became clear one of the reasons Barack Obama drove his presidential campaign into the ground in 2008 was through Obama’s extensive use of Internet campaigning. Since then, the party has followed suit.


Republicans, making every effort to fight a label of irrelevance in the age of Obama, have followed the president’s example and taken to new media to spread their message. Every politician has a Facebook profile from which to launch attacks on the opposition, and YouTube — instead of television — is where the most vicious of ads are getting air time. So is turning the Web into a political boxing ring the wave Republicans can ride to success in the future?


“Conservatives have at their disposal a fairly extensive media operation, spanning television, talk radio and the Internet, and they have proven adept at message discipline,” said Matthew Kerbel, political science professor at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia. “But the effort is still largely top-down.”


Kerbel pointed out that Republicans are in a healthy position anyway, regardless of Internet antics.


“As the opposition party, Republicans stand to benefit from continued disaffection about the direction of the country.”