Nearly a year into the 2008 presidential election cycle, the races are at long last getting interesting and judging from the recent rise in site traffic to the candidates’ websites, the U.S. electorate is paying attention to the races in ever increasing numbers.
As the states prepare to award their delegates, looking across the country to see where the leading candidates are drawing their online supporters offers insight, beyond the never ending stream of opinion polls, as to who is likely to win upcoming primaries and caucuses and secure their party’s nomination.
Today we will focus on the Democratic race, and tomorrow we’ll assess the wide-open GOP contest. To begin, the table below compares the site traffic to each of the candidate’s websites in November, as well as the demographic composition of visitors over the past three months. For comparison, traffic across all of the Democratic candidate websites rose by an average of 11% in November. In terms of demographics, 26% of visitors to Barack Obama’s website are under the age of 25%, a testament to his efforts to position himself as a change agent in Washington and attract the youth vote. Hillary Clinton, not surprisingly, attracts a disproportionate percentage (56%) of female visitors to her site.
Now we’ll compare where the leading Democrats, namely Clinton, Obama, and former Senator John Edwards, are drawing their online support. The following maps show where visitors to each candidate’s website reside in the U.S. with each dot representing 25 visitors (the dots themselves are randomly plotted within each state.) The last map is shaded based on the candidate who attracted the most visitors from each state in November.
- On a national level, the Democratic contest is now effectively a two horse race between Clinton and Obama. Clinton shows strength along most of the Eastern seaboard and Mountain states; while Obama is leading on the West Coast, Mid-West and much of the South.
- Edwards is failing to attract much online interest in his campaign in either his home state of North Carolina or in the crucial early contest state of South Carolina. However, Edwards’ focus on Iowa, where polling shows him very competitive, is evident as he appears to be drawing a considerable following in Iowa to rival Obama and Clinton.
- The Democratic Party’s decision to strip renegade Florida of is delegates as punishment for the early scheduling of their primary could end up hurting Clinton the most. In November she attracted the largest following among Floridians and a victory there could have helped her stunt rival momentum if she loses early votes in Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina (all of these states favored Obama in November based on site traffic).
As VP of Millward Brown Digital’s financial services, retail and consumer products practices, Matt is responsible for vertical growth and strategy and the delivery of digital insights and best practice marketing consulting to leading Fortune 500 advertisers. Follow Matt on Twitter @mattpace.