With the majority of primary votes cast over a month ago, March was likely met with a fair amount of disappointment by anyone hoping the hoopla surrounding the presidential race would quiet down, if only for a moment. A lot happened on the way to the Democratic Party nomination last month and as Pennsylvania gears up for its primary next week, it’s worth looking back at events that shaped the race in March and look forward to what is likely to happen next.
Clinton and Obama sparred on almost every issue last month, much to the delight of John McCain. Clinton claimed she’d be most prepared to defend the country but later had to defend and then recant her Bosnian war-time experience claims. Obama faced blistering criticism over inflammatory remarks made by his pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, forcing the candidate to make what many called the most important speech of his life.
Reviewing the tale of the tape, the extent of Obama’s dominance is clear. Obama doubled up Clinton in each of the six metrics shown above. Time spent on the candidates’ YouTube channels was particularly disproportionate in Obama’s favor thanks specifically to the popularity of the speech he gave last month at the height of the Rev. Wright controversy. At last check, the speech had been viewed over 4 million times on YouTube. In contrast, Clinton’s most watched video in March was the much publicized, and highly parodied, spot about a phone ringing in the middle of the night, which to date has been seen just under a million times.
The chart below compares each candidate’s share of monthly FaceTime during the past year. FaceTime is Compete’s holistic measure of web-wide candidate engagement based on the total amount of time voters spend with candidates across the leading social networks and video sharing websites. While this has effectively been a two person race for much of the past year (no offense to John Edwards), what’s surprising is that Obama continues to add upon his commanding lead over Clinton in terms of online time with voters. In March, Obama earned four times more FaceTime than Clinton.
From a web perspective, Barack Obama’s heavy advertising spending in Pennsylvania appears to be having its intended impact on voters. The chart below tracks the candidates’ share of traffic to their websites among Pennsylvanians. While recent state-wide polling shows him narrowing the gap with Clinton, online at least, Pennsylvanians have been moving to Obama for weeks. With the exception of late March spike in Clinton’s state web traffic share, which coincided with national interest in her inaccurate claims of landing under sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996, Obama has outdrawn Clinton handily online for the better part of the past month.
Given the trends noted above, Obama’s increasing momentum, and his dominance across almost every measurable statistic, he could pull out a victory next week in Pennsylvania. This of course would be a disaster for Clinton who has pinned all hope on getting a late boost from the final primaries in order to persuade the party’s Super Delegates to hand her the nomination.
Don’t believe the media hype, this race really isn’t really that close.
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.