By Becky Hogan
Republicans are increasingly pointing fingers at the conservative think tank, Heritage Foundation, for being too extreme.
On Thursday Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called out the organization for being too political:
“Heritage used to be the conservative organization helping Republicans,” Hatch said Thursday in an interview on MSNBC. “There’s a real question on the minds of many Republicans now — and I’m not just thinking for myself, for a lot of people — is Heritage going to go so political that it really doesn’t amount to anything anymore? I hope not.”
The foundation is believed to be at the center of the move by House Republicans to force a government shutdown in hopes of blocking the implementation of Obamacare. Some media outlets are even claiming that Jim DeMint, the Heritage Foundation’s president, is running the House GOP–and not House Speaker John Boehner. Of course, this is more hyperbole than fact, but there’s no exaggerating when it comes to the foundation’s online engagement.
Despite all the backlash, the Heritage Foundation has been in TrendPo’s Top Ten recently and is seeing a ton of support online. The think tank’s monthly gains in Facebook Likes are out of control–they’ve gained more during the government shutdown than in any other month over the last 6 months.
There’s no question the foundation has ramped up its social media presence since the summer.
They’re also responsible for this cheeky video on Obamacare which gained over 327,595 views on YouTube since it was posted on Oct. 9.
Mainstream Republicans are pointing to the arrival of Jim DeMint, the former Republican senator of South Carolina, at the Heritage Foundation in April as its new president, as a moment when the organization began to lose its way.
This summer 172 conservative House members from the Republican Study Committee decided to bar Heritage staff from attending weekly meetings on the Hill. The rift between the foundation and House GOP members originated due to a series of policy disputes that culminated with a blowup over the August vote on the the farm bill.
We also looked at how the Heritage Foundation compared to other Republican leaders during the government shutdown. Selecting each member’s peak day during the government shutdown for Facebook Talked Abouts (the number of unique users who have created a post about a Facebook page), the Heritage Foundation even outpaced Ted Cruz.
Will Heritage’s recent online popularity dwindle now that the federal government has reopened and the GOP appears to be defeated? Or will defund Obamacare rhetoric continue to fuel their online engagement?
TrendPo will be monitoring how the organization mobilizes on social media.