Candidate FaceTime in November: Meetup.com is Ron Paul's Secret Weapon

Last month Compete unveiled a new way of tracking the effectiveness of the presidential candidates’ online efforts. Dubbed Candidate FaceTimeTM, the metric offers a web wide means of measuring how well the candidates are using the leading social networks and video sharing sites to get their message out to voters. FaceTime quantifies the total amount of time voters spend online with candidates across their official website as well as their related sites on places such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and Meetup.com. The amount of time candidates earn with voters thus becomes a reflection of the depth and breadth of their online support.

As we approach the primaries, voters in general are paying attention in ever increasing numbers to the race and accordingly almost all of the candidates increased in their total FaceTime in November. Mike Huckabee and John Edwards in particular saw surges in FaceTime during the month of 194% and 181% respectively, while Ron Paul continues to outdistance all candidates.

The table below shows each candidate’s November FaceTime and associated change from October as well as the candidate’s share of their party’s FaceTime. Included this month is detail on Meetup.com, specifically the candidate’s share of time spent by voters across any candidate affiliated Meetup.com group. It’s here that Paul’s online advantage is clearly evident, as his affiliated groups accounted for 9 out of 10 minutes spent with any candidate on Meetup.com. Below the table are trended charts comparing each candidate’s share of monthly FaceTime through November.

November Highlights:

  • Ron Paul’s fanatical grassroots campaigning and record fundraising last weekend is proof that online support can indeed make a difference in the election. The challenge for all of the candidates is how to leverage their online support. Paul and his zealous online supporters offer a case study on how, by leveraging Meetup.com, online activism can be harnessed into offline action. At last count Paul had over 82,000 supporters on Meetup.com who collectively have planned or held nearly 21,000 offline events to rally support (and raise money) for their candidate. 11% of Paul’s total FaceTime in November occurred on Meetup.com. Win or lose the GOP nomination, Paul’s groundbreaking use of Meetup.com is likely to be studied and emulated by campaigns in future elections.

  • While it’s unclear whether celebrity endorsements really help candidates, if done right, a creative (and would-be viral) video featuring that celebrity can go miles in helping a candidate get their message out to voters. Case in point: Mike Huckabee. The onetime third-tier candidate has catapulted himself into contention for the GOP nomination on the back of a populist message that is arguably long on humor and rhetoric and short on policy specifics. Huckabee’s FaceTime grew 191% in November, the most of any candidate, and ranked second only to Paul in total time with voters. Huckabee’s endorsement by Chuck Norris (a.k.a. Walker Texas Ranger) was significant in helping him gain the attention of voters last month. Their humorous video "HuckChuckFacts", which began airing last month, has now been viewed over 1.2 million times. Huckabee is the only candidate, other than Paul, whose supporters are making heavy use of Meetup.com to rally support.

  • John Edwards saw nearly a tripling of his FaceTime in November thanks to the popularity of his "The Politics of Parsing" video in which he draws attention to Hillary Clinton’s perceived inability to take a firm stand on issues. To date, that video has been viewed nearly 350,000 times.





Check out all of Compete’s 2008 Presidential Election coverage here:

About Matt Pace:
As VP of Retail and Consumer Products at Compete, Matt Pace is responsible for leading a team of client services professionals who deliver digital intelligence and insights to clients in the retail and consumer packaged good industries. Before Matt joined the Compete Team he was a CPA and senior auditor with Deloitte & Touche. Follow Matt on Twitter @mattpace.

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