As the states prepare to begin awarding their delegates next month, analyzing the size, geographic and demographic makeup of each candidate’s online following (in this case visitors to the candidates’ websites) offers insight, beyond the never ending stream of opinion polls, as to who is likely to win these primaries and caucuses and secure their party’s nomination.
Yesterday we looked at state of the Democratic race, and today we turn our attention to the wide open GOP contest, where six of the eight candidates are considered frontrunners.
The table below compares the site traffic to each candidate’s website in November, as well as the demographic composition of visitors over the past three months. Traffic across the entire Republican field rose by an average of 34% in November, versus 11% among the Democratic candidate sites, a signal that Republicans are finally starting to pay attention to the race.
Attracting nearly half a million visitors to his website in November, Ron Paul continues to distance himself from the GOP pack and is benefiting from his supporters’ effective online activism and use of social networks. Six in ten visitors to RonPaul2008.com are male, the most of any candidate, and 39% of his visitors have household incomes greater than $100K, which is sure to catch the envious eye of rivals and helps explain his recent recording setting fundraising efforts.
Fred Thompson may be the experienced actor, but Mike Huckabee’s recent "Huck-a-boom" in support is evidence that he’s filling in quite nicely for Thompson in the role of the "Great Conservative Hope." Huckabee’s site traffic rose 89% in November largely at Thompson’s expense. Among the top-tier candidates, Mitt Romney attracts the largest percentage of female visitors.
Now we’ll compare where the leading Republican candidates are drawing their online support. The following maps show where visitors to each candidate’s website reside in the U.S. Each dot represents 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.
- Paul attracts the largest online following not only is his home state of Texas, but he also outdraws all of his rivals in their home states as well (Giuliani"”New York; Huckabee"”Arkansas; McCain"”Arizona; Romney"”Michigan and Massachusetts; and Thompson"”Tennessee). This certainly runs counter to the notion that Paul’s support is localized to a few pockets (read: basements) around the country.
- One area of the country where Paul doesn’t dominate is in the Deep South where Huckabee’s Evangelical appeal appears to be resonating with much of the GOP base.
- Giuliani and McCain’s decision to concede Iowa and focus instead on New Hampshire is evident on the maps. All of the candidates, with the exception of Fred Thompson, are attracting considerable attention among New Hampshirites. As several of the candidates’ (Romney and McCain in particular) fortunes are likely to rise or fall in the Granite State, the January 8th primary could be a bloodbath.
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.