The Republicans are catching up. A study released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project says the use of social media in political campaigns grew, naturally, from 2008 to 2010. One big difference, though, was that in 2008, Democrats had the upper hand in the use of social media. That gap is closing.

After first gaining prominence as tools for political engagement during the 2008 presidential election, social media became a regular part of the political environment for voters in the 2010 midyear elections. Some 22% of online adults used Twitter or social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace in the months leading up to the November, 2010 elections to connect to the campaign or the election itself.

In contrast to the 2008 race—in which Democratic voters led the way in their use of online social networks for political purposes—Republican voters and supporters of the “Tea Party” movement caught up with Democrats in their use of social media in 2010.