"Things like that helped grow readership before the race" — i.e., Scott Brown versus Martha Coakley — "came along," Eno tells me. "And when the race came along, it just fed upon itself. At the end of the campaign, we were doing 25 posts a day, and the national people were coming to Red Mass Group to find out about the race."
Eno's self-congratulatory tone here is understandable, given the abiding conviction in some segments of the mainstream media that blogs simply co-opt content created by more traditional and (allegedly) more hard-working outlets. His assessment is echoed by David Kravitz, one of the founders and co-editors of BMG, who lavishes praise on RMG's productivity.
"As far as I can tell," says Kravitz, "those guys must have practically quit their day jobs — because they were putting all kinds of stuff up on the site. They were clearly plugged into the campaign operation, but they did a lot of good stuff on their own."
In addition to savvy marketing and sheer hustle, Eno offers one more explanation for RMG's recent growth: ideological heterogeneity. While Eno's own beliefs are somewhat varied — he questions global warming, but says he'd "probably" have voted to legalize same-sex marriage if it had been put to a vote — he describes himself as an "establishment" Republican. His fellow editors Garrett Quinn and Mike Rossettie, however, are far more libertarian. (Quinn's evolution is the stuff of objectivist wet dreams: high school Howard Zinn acolyte goes to college, reads Ayn Rand, travels in Europe, and falls in love with Ron Paul.) The fourth editor, Paul Ferro, is an unabashed social conservative.
"Blue Mass Group, I think, has the lefty wing of the Democratic Party," Eno contends. "We've been careful not to alienate any wing. And that allows for the representation of a lot of different viewpoints."
RMG's recent hot streak has Eno thinking very, very big. He says he wants to make RMG his full-time job, that he's searching for conservative benefactors who might help bankroll the site, that he plans to launch a regional conservative political site (possible name: Red Nor'easter) this spring.
"Instapundit is linking to us; Big Government is linking to us; Michelle Malkin, Hot Air," Eno says happily, rattling off a roster of big-name conservative blogs. "For us, there's really no place to go but up."
Time will tell. The challenge for RMG, now that Brown's earthshaking Senate victory is history, will be replicating its recent success. And that may not be so easy. After peaking on the day of the special election, according to the Web metrics site alexa.com, RMG's daily page views have dropped sharply, in recent days barely surpassing those of local conservative alternative hubpolitics.com.
Whatever RMG's future holds, though, one thing is certain: gone are the days when liberals could take Web supremacy for granted.
"The Net is great for helping people connect when they feel left out or under-represented," says Micah Sifry, editor of techpresident.com, a site focused on the intersection of politics and the Web. "It's more in tune with outsider than insider sentiment. The netroots were born when Republicans were in charge, and Democrats at the liberal end of the spectrum were looking for leadership. Then, after the Republicans' 2008 collapse, you started seeing all these conservative sprouts spring up: rebuildtheparty.com, thenextright.com, Republicans experimenting with new social-media tools like Twitter."