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Daily Digest: Online Data Points to Offline Votes

BY Joshua Levy | Tuesday, January 8 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Last week data researcher Heather Hopkins, of Hitwise, wrote that Iowans were visiting Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee’s websites more than any other candidate sites. We know how that turned out. Now data from Hitwise and Compete, which also tracks site visits, is showing the most popular candidate sites among New Hampshire voters. Hitwise says that most Democratic voters in New Hampshire are going to Obama’s site; the majority of Republicans are showing up on Huckabee’s site; Compete’s data shows Obama and John McCain getting the most attention. Compete’s Lauren Moore writes, “if we base votes on sites visits alone,” Obama and John McCain would win today’s NH primary. We don’t do that, of course, though site visits have been a surprisingly accurate predictor in the past. So who’ll it be, Huck or McCain?

  • More data points to Obama: Data miner Matthew Hurst posts a chart generated by Nielsen BuzzMetrics’ BlogPulse that shows Hillary Clinton - who had previously had the most “buzz” in the blogosphere among Democrats — losing out to Obama, who generated huge amount of blog buzz post-Iowa. Duh.

  • Taking off of Joe Garofoli’s excellent piece about Obama and young voters, MediaShift’s Mark Glaser wonders if the “tide is turning” and online support is beginning to translate to offline votes. “Online organizing, fundraising and social networking all have their place, all can help a candidate raise his/her profile and reach people in a new venue. How that translates into votes is another matter,” Glaser writes.

  • Last week, Twitter turned out to be a great (and fun) aid in following the Iowa caucus results. TechPresident’s Patrick Ruffini set up a Twitter account to follow caucusgoers’ results, those of us who tweet our day away engaged in rambunctious conversations and exposed each other to new information. While there’s no dedicated Twitter account for to follow tonight’s New Hampshire results, you can be sure there’ll be a lot of Twit-action. If your friends aren’t enough, one site called Politweets is aggregating all of the posts on Twitter that mention the candidates and lining up posts mentions the Dems on one side and GOP on the other, with the most popular candidates listed in the middle. It’s a neat way to track the burblings of the Twittering Class. Funniest tweet so far: “I have gravel stuck in my shoe,” though Twitter user JimDye says he posted that just so it would show up on Politweet.

  • TechRepublican’s Patrick Bell links to a new somewhat-funny but mostly-unoriginal anti-Mitt Romney video that frames Romney as Max Headroom. Hmm, it reminds me of a certain other video that shows a Democratic candidate as a robotic-sounding authoritarian figure… Bell wonders if the video, which was created by an anonymous YouTuber, will go viral, but you can’t predict these things. It’s not always about the quality of the video but how it strikes the public and captures a perceived truth. The anti-Hillary “1984” did that, and we’ll have to wait and see if this one does the trick.

The Candidates on the Web

  • In a smart piece about the battle for online support, the New York Times’ Katherine Seelye notes that to ride the wave of post-Iowa interest in their campaigns, “most of the candidates have been cranking up their presence online.” As Barack Obama has gained momentum post-Iowa, views of his videos on YouTube and Google searches for his name have soared, so he’s posting new videos in virtual real time. Mitt Romney is doing the same, and Hillary Clinton is belatedly opening up to voters’ questions online and off. Oh, and Seelye uses techPresident’s charts to make her analysis.

In Case You Missed It…

The campaign that begins tomorrow, with expensive states like Florida and South Carolina coming before the “Tsunami Tuesday” of February 5th, will require millions in staff, direct mail, and television advertising. In the past, it’s been hard for candidates to take in money quickly enough to keep going after they’d spent everything. Garret Graff wonders if online donations change things.

Forget Google and YouTube! Colin Delany reports Huckabee and Obama are winning the all-important CafePress primary.

According to Google Trends, Barack Obama has been the subject of more Google searches than any other presidential candidate, and aside from Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee he blows everyone else out of the water. And he’s exploding on YouTube.

A lot of voters are turning to the candidates’ websites to help make up their minds, so Zephyr Teachout rated the top Republican sites according to how well they might help undecideds. The grades are almost almost the reverse of how much money they have probably spent on their sites.