Some voters wait until the last minute to decide who to pull the lever, punch the ballot or press the button for, and sometimes they wait as late as voting day. Indeed, campaign sites for the five top presidential candidates experienced traffic spikes on Super Tuesday, according to Hitwise. The Web site audience measurement firm found MikeHuckabee.com had a 142 percent increase in traffic over the previous Tuesday. The conservative dark horse also attracted the lowest percentage of visitors over the age of 55 in the weeks leading to the nationwide primary election day.
Hitwise data provided to ClickZ News shows traffic to HillaryClinton.com nearly doubled on February 5 as compared to the Tuesday before. Traffic to sites for Senators John McCain and Barack Obama rose about 75 percent, while 59 percent more visitors went to Mitt Romney’s campaign site on the cross-country primary day. Overall, BarackObama.com had the most U.S. market share of traffic on the each of the days tracked.
Online campaign observer Josh Levy, associate editor of Personal Democracy Forum and techPresident, called the traffic boosts predictable. “It was the biggest day of the year for the candidates, the first time the majority of the country was actually paying attention,” he suggested. “So a lot of the people got off the couch, went to their computers, and searched.”
Also, Levy wondered whether some of the traffic increases may have occurred after polls closed, when news outlets were reporting results. “Huckabee surprised people with his results, and that may have contributed to his high number,” he noted.
However, cautioned Levy, Web traffic “doesn’t directly predict anything, or explain anything.”
Keeping that in mind, some intriguing patterns emerge when looking at the age makeup of visitors to the top five presidential candidate sites, as measured by Hitwise during the month leading up to Super Tuesday. For instance, although Obama is typically pegged as the candidate most aligned with the youth vote, the official sites of Huckabee, McCain and Clinton all attracted more 18- to 24-year-old visitors than did BarackObama.com. While 9.5 percent of Obama’s site traffic came from 18- to 24-year-olds, over 10 percent of those visiting McCain’s and Huckabee’s sites were 18 to 24.
Clinton’s site drew the highest proportions of youngest and oldest among the top five candidates, according to Hitwise data. More than 17 percent of Clinton site visitors were 18 to 24, and over 31 percent were aged 55 and above. Huckabee’s site attracted the fewest voters aged 55 and over — 21 percent.
Site traffic by gender in the four weeks ending February 2 was not particularly surprising. Clinton drew the most women to her campaign site, 64 percent. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who dropped out of the race yesterday, attracted the most men to his site, 57 percent.
Political campaign sites are bound to draw interest from likely visitors as well as seemingly unlikely ones. For instance, according to data from Hitwise and Experian’s audience segmentation service Mosaic, the top five audience segments of all five presidential sites measured drew visitors from “steadfast conservatives,” a demographic segment Mosaic categorizes as “a quietly aging cluster” of mainly white, high school-educated, middle class singles and couples residing in midscale urban neighborhoods.
Some demographic categories seemed more reflective of the groups supporting particular candidates or parties. For example, Obama’s site was the only one featuring members of “Minority Metro Communities” and “African-American Neighborhoods” among its top five audience segments; the candidate has drawn significant support from African-Americans. Clinton, on the other hand, was the only candidate whose site had members of the “Latino Nuevo” segment in her top five audience categories. The New York Senator has done well with Latino voters thus far.
The Web sites of all three Republican candidates, Huckabee, McCain, and Romney, featured people categorized in the “Prime Middle America” segment in their top five audience segments, though neither of the Democratic candidates had members of this group listed in their top five. According to Mosaic, people in the Prime Middle America category are younger than average and upper middle class with well-paying blue-collar and white-collar jobs in transportation, manufacturing and public administration.
|U.S Daily Share of Traffic|
|Candidate Site||1/29/2008||2/5/2008||% Change|
|Source: Hitwise, 2008|