YouTube Debate May Have Affected Candidate Site Traffic

ClickZ_Campaign08_katefinal.jpgEverybody’s discussing the effect of the first CNN/YouTube Debate, and it may have prompted changes in traffic to sites of the official campaign sites of the Democratic Presidential candidates who participated in it.

While Hillary Clinton is steamrollering past her opponents in recent polls, according to Hitwise, Barack Obama held the lead in traffic for the weeks ending July 21 and July 28. His traffic market share, however, did fall 6 percentage points in market share of traffic to Dem hopefuls’ sites in the time following the July 23 YouTube spectacle.

Clinton, who led the pack in May, did eclipse another fellow Senator, John Edwards, in the week ending July 28, as compared to the week ending July 21. Traffic to Edwards’ site shrank 6 percentage points by the 28th, and Bill Richardson also lost his share in traffic over the two week span.

Lesser-known Dem Mike Gravel experienced a leap of over 6.5 points in the week following the debate, moving from the 7th to the 4th spot in the Democratic candidate rankings. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd also increased market share of traffic to their sites, as did Dennis Kucinich, who changed his official campaign site domain name from the more awkward to

As for Republican candidates, independent-minded Web celeb Congressman Ron Paul remained on top and appears to be steadily gaining traffic market share. Hitwise data show the candidate’s site rising almost 6 percent in traffic market share during the last two weeks in July, up from 27 percent in May to 45 percent in the week ending July 28.

Though his site didn’t gain much additional traffic in the final weeks of July, Mitt Romney managed to surpass Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, since those July 21 second and third spot holders dropped below Romney in site traffic by July 28. Romney’s campaign site also ranked second in May.

Republicans Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback edged up in the last week of July, while Duncan Hunter dropped. Also falling — to below 1 percent of site traffic market share — were Tommy Thompson and recent race dropout Jim Gilmore, whose former campaign site now redirects to

Whether the YouTube/CNN Debates have an impact on the Republican sites is anyone’s guess, since even their decisions to or not to participate seem to be affecting views of the candidates. At this point, Giuliani and Romney both have indicated they will not participate in the planned September 17 event at all, prompting ire from some right-wing Web evangelist bloggers.

The traffic rankings among Republican candidates might also be altered by the likely inclusion of popular candidate Fred Thompson’s site if his campaign is made official. For this custom Republican site category, Hitwise is only including official candidates.

Democratic Candidates’ Site Traffic
Market Share and Rankings Weeks Ending 7.21 and 7.28
Market Share Ranking Week Ending 7.28 Campaign Web site Market Share Week Ending 7.21 Market Share Week Ending 7.28
1. Barack Obama 47.51% 41.17%
2. Hillary Clinton For President 19.53% 24.14%
3. John Edwards For President 20.58% 14.37%
4. Gravel 2008 1.50% 8.15%
5. Joe Biden for President 2.58% 4.52%
7. Dennis Kucinich 2008 3.93% 4.15%
6. Bill Richardson for President Exploratory Committee 3.22% 2.04%
8. Chris Dodd for President 1.12% 1.46%
Source: Hitwise, 2007

Republican Candidates’ Site Traffic
Market Share and Rankings Weeks Ending 7.21 and 7.28
Market Share Ranking Week Ending 7.28 Campaign Web site Market Share Week Ending 7.21 Market Share Week Ending 7.28
1. Ron Paul 2008 39.47% 45.38%
2. Mitt Romney 13.04% 13.93%
3. Rudy Giuliani Presidential Exploratory Committee 17.52% 13.63%
4. John McCain 2008 14.56% 9.95%
5. Mike Huckabee 6.17% 8.36%
6. Brownback for President 1.77% 4.57%
7. Duncan Hunter for President 3.76% 3.07%
8. Tommy 2008 2.09% 0.84%
9. Jim Gilmore 08 1.61% 0.28%
Source: Hitwise, 2007

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