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Oh MyMitt: Romney's Not So Excellent Online Metrics [UPDATED]

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 17 2011

Last Saturday was "National Call Day" for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, an all-hands-on-deck effort to rally volunteers to make calls from their homes "to share Mitt's pro-growth message and build support for the campaign," as one of their many emails to supporters put it.

Well, judging from the number of people who clicked through on the link provided by all of those emails -- http://mi.tt/americas-calling -- less than 3,000 folks bothered to join in. How do we know this? Because the Romney tech team, in an admirable commitment to campaign transparency, is using the bit.ly link shortener to produce that nifty mi.tt url, and bit.ly makes it easy for anyone to look up the info about a link (just add a plus sign at the end). A look at https://bitly.com/americas-calling+ finds just 2,883 clicks on the url:

I doubt that most of those people actually ending up making calls, since the first thing the link makes them do is create a "MyMitt" social profile on the Mitt Romney campaign site, instead of taking them right away to a call page. There are only 1,463 views of the training video that you see next, when you go to that call page, another sign that the push was a flop.

And just 35 people bothered to share Romney's post on Facebook celebrating the call program as a success.

I called the Romney campaign press office to find out how the call program did, but so far no one has responded, and after the original version of this post appeared, Zac Moffatt, the campaign's digital director, called. He said the main goal of the national call day was to see if the campaign could activate volunteers from all fifty states, and from that perspective he said it was a complete success. A staffer named Jack who answered the campaign's help desk for the national call effort told me, proudly, that 36,000-37,000 calls were generated from all fifty states. If we assume that the average volunteer made about a dozen calls, that works out to roughly 3,000 participants.

To put this in perspective, the Obama 2012 campaign says it made three million phone calls to canvass supporters in the last three months, and says its about to get its millionth individual donor sometime today. Saturday, it says it had 20+ volunteers in a phone bank office in Iowa City alone.

How big is Mitt Romney's list, judging from these metrics? My guess is that it's probably somewhere in the range of 300,000 people, using the one-percent rule for online participation (i.e., typically just one percent do the heavy lifting). (UPDATE: Moffatt wouldn't comment on this estimate.) Of those, right now Romney has exactly 94,552 people who have bothered to create their own "MyMitt" profile, another bit of transparency that the Romney has given us, thanks to their use of Drupal. (The user number is in the url.)

UPDATE: Moffatt pointed out that it isn't really fair to compare where the Romney campaign stands today against Obama, and instead argued that the only important comparison is to the rest of the Republican field. He's at least half-right about that, as indeed Romney--the likeliest candidate to face Obama--still has a long way to go til he is the Republican nominee. For him to have nearly a hundred thousand people creating personal profiles on his own website (a big personal statement of commitment), along with 1.1 million Facebook fans, shows that Romney has a real base among Republican voters. But I still think it's worth reflecting on the fact that when it comes to how many people are participating in backing a presidential candidate, right now even the Republican front-runner is far behind President Obama online.