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What Clicks With Voters Online

The campaign Wikiwar rages on -- with supporters and critics of candidates flocking to the write-it-yourself online encyclopedia.

On YouTube, you can measure popularity by the number of total views that a candidate's channel and videos get. On MySpace, you can look at the number of "friends" a candidate has. And on Wikipedia, you can go to Compete.com, the online market research firm that's compiling the number of people visiting each of the candidate's Wiki entries.

Last month, during the days of the Iowa Straw poll, the Wiki entries of the GOP contenders increased their total readership. The Wiki page of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who placed second in the straw poll, experienced the biggest bump. His entry was read by 14,497 people in August, up 314 percent from July. "Wikipedia is one barometer of interest in a particular candidate. Take Huckabee as an example. Voters are giving him a first look, if not a second look, on his Wikipedia entry," said Matt Pace, director of new markets at Compete.

The Wiki page of Fred Thompson, who was still in his "testing-the-waters" phase and skipped the straw poll event altogether, dropped 37 percent in Wiki visitors. Even with that drop, some 15,200 people read Thompson's Wiki entry in August, more than the tallies for Sen. John McCain and Sen. Sam Brownback.

Rep. Ron Paul, who's got a loyal Internet following, continues to lead the rest of the Republican field in terms of grassroots Internet support. Paul's entry had the top readership in August, Republican or Democrat. According to Compete, roughly 50,400 unique visitors read his article -- more than Sen. Hillary Clinton and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani combined.

-- Jose Antonio Vargas

By Washington Post editors  |  September 17, 2007; 2:00 PM ET
 
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