Clickstream Prediction: Michigan and Arizona Too Close to Call?

Republican Elephant

Image from: Linda Bucklin / Shutterstock

Well, we’re 8 weeks into primary season and four Republican hopefuls still remain as we head into tomorrow’s contests in Arizona and Mitt Romney’s homestate: Michigan. These outcomes of these two primaries will certainly have a large effect on the momentum that each of the candidates has going into Super Tuesday next week and 59 delegates are up for grabs.

So far this primary season, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have each won four contests, Newt Gingrich has won one and Ron Paul has yet to carry a state. Here at Compete, we’ve been tracking on the online interest in each of the candidates over the past eight weeks and using that data to predict the outcome of certain contests in the primary season thus far. This week we will be looking at the online behavior of Arizonans and Michiganders (or “Michiganians”, if you ask my fellow blogger and MI native, Jody Schechter) as we count down to Tuesday’s Republican primaries.


Arizona has long been considered a “safe” state for Romney, but Santorum has been closing in on him in the polls lately – and they’re neck and neck online too. Rick Santorum has been surging these past few weeks as Romney has struggled to establish himself as the clear front runner and Newt Gingrich continues to slide.

Each Candidate’s Share of Online Interest Among Arizonans

Newt peaked in Arizona in Week 4 (the week after his South Carolina victory) and has not recovered since. Santorum hit his high note in Week 6 when he won the contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, but has been losing ground to Romney since then. It is clear though, that Romney and Santorum are garnering the majority of attention in Arizona and it will be one of those two that gets Arizona’s 29 delegates tomorrow night. This data as of week 8 is too close to call – but the trends suggest that it will be Romney.

The outcome of Michigan’s contest has much more interesting implications – especially for Mitt, the hometown candidate.


Once again, the clickstream data shows that Romney and Santorum are effectively tied in the amount of interest they are getting online and once again the trends seem to indicate that Romney will barely eke out a win. Santorum’s Week 6 win got him a huge amount of attention among Michigan, but the glow may be wearing off as Mitt is outspending Rick by as much as 12 to 1 in his determination to chalk up a “W’ in his home state.

Each Candidate’s Share of Online Interest Among Michiganians

So if one thing is clear from this data – it’s that these will be tight races for the frontrunners. Newt seems to have slipped considerably from his South Carolina win and Paul, despite a significant bias online, has yet to win a state of his own. 59 delegates are on the table in Arizona and Michigan tomorrow and their outcomes will set the stage for the efforts of the remaining four candidates in the run up to Super Tuesday.

*Throughout the 2012 Republican Primaries, I will be using Compete’s 2,000,000+ person  panel to examine the weekly unique visitor (UV) traffic to each of the Republican primary candidate’s official campaign websites, campaign donation pages and official Facebook pages. I will conduct analysis at the county, state and national level to derive insights about the performance of candidates and offer predictions based on these trends in our sample data. In some instances (ie. At the county level) sample sizes may be low, but the data points are still interesting for directional analysis.

About Nathan Kollett:
Nathan Kollett is an Analyst in the Technology & Entertainment vertical at Compete. Nathan is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and earned his B.A. in Economics with a minor in Mathematics and Statistics. You can follow him on Twitter at @nathankollett and connect with him on on Linkedin