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Romney Online, By the Numbers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, January 9 2012

A few days ago, the Romney campaign posted an interesting and somewhat revealing infographic about their online efforts touting the various milestones they've hit. "Supporters are joining and sharing online in unprecedented levels," they claimed. Well, maybe. The question is compared to what.

The infographic offers two kinds of metrics that lend themselves to some comparisons. The first is traffic to and time spent on the campaign website. In the seven months since the Romney campaign launched, the campaign says that 3.25 million people have visited MittRomney.com leading to 10.88 million page views. They convert that number to 14.5 years of time spent on the site.

These are impressive-looking numbers, but they're actually not that big a deal. A little reverse-engineering of the math embedded in that statement suggests that people are spending about 42 seconds per page view on the Romney site. This is respectable but not particularly high. Jim Pugh, the former director of analytics and development for Organizing for America, told me that "a time of 40 seconds is pretty average for political sites."

More telling, the 3.25 million total visits is actually not an "unprecedented" number for a Republican presidential campaign. The Ron Paul campaign's daily web traffic dwarves the Romney campaigns, as this comparative chart from Alexa shows.

Most interesting to us, the Romney campaign reports that the MyMitt community has already raised $1.45 million for the campaign. As of now, by my reckoning, that community has roughly 160,000 members, up from 94,000 in mid-October. I'm speculating here, but if we assume that about two percent of this group are actually doing the heavy-lift of personal fundraising, that works out to about 3,200 people each raising about $450 each so far.

If you recall that in 2008, 70,000 members of My.BarackObama.com (3.5% of the total membership) raised $30 million for the campaign, at a pace of about $430 per fundraiser/donor, these early numbers for Romney aren't half bad. And they also don't track too badly with Rick Santorum's social fundraising push on Fundly.com, which I noted earlier today as having garnered nearly a quarter million dollars from about 2,600 fundraiser/donors.

But Pugh is skeptical. "Romney has been the on-again / off-again presumptive GOP nominee since well before his campaign 'launched' seven months ago, while Obama was really the dark horse candidate until Iowa in 2008," he notes. "$1.45 million through community fundraising seems like a decent start, but the big question in my mind is if he'll be able to ramp up the energy of online supporters over the next year like the 2008 Obama campaign did."