The internet is fast becoming a popular source for political campaign news and information, prompting Nielsen to examine the composition of visitors to the presidential candidates’ websites during January 2012, with some interesting results. According to Nielsen’s March 2012 figures, 52% of visitors to BarackObama.com during January were either aged 50-65 (34.6%) or over 65 (17.4%), the highest proportion out of the 5 candidates studied, with Newt.org the next highest, at 49.2%. Meanwhile, the oldest candidate, Ron Paul, had the highest proportion of young visitors: 36.8% of visitors to the candidate’s website were 18-34-year-olds.
The competition for visitors is growing in importance this year, with recent Pew Research Center data showing that the proportion of Americans turning to the internet to get their campaign news has almost tripled to 25% from 9% in 2000.
Santorum Visitors Skew Female
Meanwhile, during January 2012, just 39.6% of the visitors to BarackObama.com were men, while women accounted for 60.3% of RickSantorum.com visitors, the highest share among all candidates. Among the Republican candidates, Ron Paul had the highest share of male visitors, at 55.5%, followed by Newt.org, at 51.2%.
Obama Dominates Competition
President Obama’s website had by far the largest number of unique visitors in January, with 4.2 million US adults. The Republican field trailed distantly, with RonPaul2012.com leading the pack at 830,000 visitors. Following relatively closely were MittRomney.com (773,000), RiskSantorum.org (696,000), and Newt.org (609,000). This means that BarackObama.com drew roughly 44% more visitors than all of the Republican candidates combined.
Despite President Obama outflanking the Republican field in terms of website visitors, a March 2012 study from Edelman reveals that Republicans are more effective on Twitter than Democrats. On average, Senate Republicans received almost 5,400 mentions per handle, compared to 4,419 for Senate Democrats. Meanwhile, House Republicans averaged 3,270 mentions per handle, far ahead of the 1,584 average for House Democrats.
- Newt Gingrich’s website visitors were the most affluent and educated, as 27% earn more than $100k, and half have a Bachelor’s or Post-Grad degree.
- Hispanics accounted for 17% of the MittRomney.com audience, which Nielsen reports to be 37% more Hispanics than were active online during January (12%).
- Among a selection of news and information sites featuring political content, Nielsen found that Google News had the highest concentration of visitors aged 18-34, while Americans aged 35-49 were most likely to visit Politico and Drudge Report.
- NPR saw the largest growth in visitors of the selection since October, at 21%.
- 36% of Drudge Report visitors have a Bachelor’s degree, the largest proportion of the sites measured.
- More than 1 in 4 Wall Street Journal Digital visitors have a household income of $100k or more.
- Each of the candidate’s website was more likely to attract an internet user with a Bachelor’s degree than a news and information site.
About the Data: The Edelman results are based on a data set of 456 Congressional Twitter handles, including 89 Senators and 367 Representatives, of which 194 were Democrats, 260 were Republicans, and 2 were Independents. The Twitter data was provided by Simply Measured, and included sent and received tweets over the course of 112 days, from September 2, 2011, to December 25, 2011. The study analyzed 59,270 sent tweets from Members of Congress.