What Clicks With Voters Online
On campaign sites, the Democrats (collectively) rule.
In this week's installment of the presidential online popularity contest, we take a look at the candidate Web sites. Nielsen//Net Ratings, the Internet research firm, has been tracking the number of unique visitors to all of the sites, and the results show a sharp difference by party. By far, the Democratic sites are attracting more unique visitors than their Republican counterparts. The difference is so stark, it's almost 2-1. In July, the latest figures available, the sites of the three Democratic front-runners (Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton and former senator John Edwards) drew a total of 1.5 million unique visitors. In contrast, the three leading GOP contenders (former senator Fred Thompson, former mayor Rudy Giuliani and former govennor Mitt Romney) drew a total of 629,000.
And judging by the Nielsen figures, Obama and Clinton -- who are both drawing Hollywood-like coverage offline, with Clinton sitting down with Ellen DeGeneres and Obama attending an Oprah Winfrey-sponsored fundraiser this weekend -- are duking it out online. In April, Obama's site attracted the most number of unique visitors. In May and June, Clinton's did. Though Obama took July, Clinton's site proved to be "the stickiest" -- which is onlinespeak for the time a unique visitor spends on a Web site. On BarackObama.com, the time per visitor was 7 minutes and 53 seconds. On HillaryClinton.com, it was 8 minutes and 17 seconds.
The Internet is a "pull" medium. Build a site, and people come. Because of the improved technology, and the advent of social networking sites such as YouTube, MySpace, Eons, etc. the candidate sites have turned into true online headquarters for the campaigns. You can contribute, get the latest buzz on your candidate and, most importantly, connect with other supporters. After sitting down with Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" and declaring "I'm running for president of the United States," Fred Thompson posted a 15-minute video announcemnt on Fred08.com
Thompson's site, which has steadily made improvements in recent weeks, could even break Obama and Clinton's winning streak.
In July, when he was still "testing the waters," Thompson's site drew the third highest number of unique visitors -- 381,000. That's behind Obama and Clinton and ahead of Edwards, Giuliani and Romney.
-- Jose Antonio Vargas
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