Do Presidential Website Visitors Translate to Votes?
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
March 23 2012 11:48 AM ET
The 2012 political season is heating up. For Republicans, the question is "Who can beat Obama?" in the November presidential election. But if the question was based on website visitors, the answer would be "no one."
At more than 4.2 million visitors per month, the site BarackObama.com topped its competitors by a wide margin, according to a report released by media tracker Nielsen. During January 2012, more American adults visited President Barack Obama’s site than the remaining four Republican candidates’ sites combined. Ron Paul's site — the biggest draw among Republicans — hosted 830,000 visitors.
But visits may not mean votes. Counts alone don't tell us why someone visited a site. Scandals can boost clicks, for example. (Remember Herman Cain?)
However, the Nielsen report revealed big differences in the composition of each candidate's online audience that provides clues into what groups — men, women, old, young and others — are interested in when voting for a candidate.
Paul, the oldest candidate in the race at 76, saw the highest percentage of younger visitors. One-third of the visitors to ronpaul2012.com are 18 to 34 years old. More than half of Obama's site's visitors were people over 50.
The current Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney attracted the highest proportion of Hispanic voters among all the candidates, including Obama. Out of 773,000 visitors to MittRomney.com in January, 17 percent were Hispanic.
With 696,000 visitors in January, RickSantorum.com had the highest number of female visitors , at 60 percent — edging out Obama's site by less than 2 percentage points.
Republican candidate Newt Gingrich boasted the highest proportion of the wealthy and educated out of 609,000 visitors. Twenty-seven percent of his audience made over $100,000 annually and half had a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree, according to Nielsen's figures. Men and women were nearly equally represented.
These numbers may not indicate who will support a candidate, however. We've already learned from Super Tuesday results that online visits and comments don't translate into votes. Just ask Paul, whose social media buzz was second only to Romney, yet he wound up with the fewest votes.