The Effect of the Web on the Presidential Race

The internet is fast becoming a vital battleground that has had a powerful impact on the political process. Spock examined some of the people search figures surrounding the presidential campaign.

Spock has found that people are not only researching the candidates and issues online, they are researching their wives, husbands, parents, children, and other members of the family.

In the past month, over 92% of the searches for McCain have been for family members such as Cindy and Meghan, while only 8% for John McCain. In contrast, about 60% of the searches for Obama have been for Barack, and the remaining 40% for family members.

The data shows that in order to connect with a candidate, people want to know more about the family members who do not get as much coverage in the traditional media. Of the candidate searches on, the majority for Michelle Obama, Cindy McCain, and Meghan McCain have been directed towards finding pictures.

On August 24th the search term “Jill Biden” sky-rocketed to #1 searched term on the Web compared to #30 on the previous day, again illustrating how the web is a power research medium that helps voters learn more.

Spock has also recorded a significantly greater number of searches for “Obama” compared to “McCain”. In the last month Obama searches have been 200% greater than McCain. This data shows the greater internet effectiveness of the Obama campaign.

It is therefore no surprise that Spock finds twice the number of people on the web claiming to be Obama supporters as compared to McCain. On Facebook alone, Obama supporters out number McCain by 20 times (630,000 Obama, 37,000 McCain).

To counter the Obama web supremacy, the Republican campaign is finally waking up and stepping up web presence especially in the area of paid search – where ads are placed when you search for a term. Today, searching for terms like Democrat, Obama, and even Hillary Clinton shows a predominance of Republican McCain ads. This was not the case 60 days ago when it was the complete opposite. At that time the Obama camp was purchasing all the ad space for keywords like democrat, “presidential candidate”, election, etc.

This shift will probably benefit the McCain campaign. However, it will still be very hard for them to catchup to the ground swell of support for the Obama camp that has already taken root and growing fast.

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